You can make limoncello very quickly if you use 100 proof vodka. The cheap stuff is fine, because you adulterate it with lemon and simple syrup.
Start off with about 20 lemons and a 750 mL container of vodka. Use a microplate grater to zest the lemons. Pour in vodka, and let sit for a week or so, shaking every couple of days. It is ready when the zest looks pale and gray/yellow.
Sometime in that week, make a simple syrup. Boil together 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Let cool completely. When the vodka mixture is ready, add the simple syrup to taste. You can add more vodka to bring up the proof again, but keep on tasting it. Remember that if the limoncello is kept int eh freezer that the flavors will be more muted.
Some people suggest adding the zest of a lime to the lemon. I haven’t done that. But I have made orange-cello and Buddha’s-hand-cello. The last was the most wonderful concoction on earth.
I’m glad for all these recipes…I found one in a Martha Stewart magazine last year that I wanted to use, but can’t buy Everclear or the high-proof vodka it called for in Ohio, so I set it aside…now I’m inspired again!
From what my research revealed, you can certainly use Everclear, but don’t have to if it’s hard to get in your area. Eighty proof vodka won’t work to extract the oils, but 100 proof will. It’s fine to use if it’s easier to get.
Try the forums at www.egullet.com, a culinary website populated with many food industry people and high-level amateurs. There is a long thread about limoncello with more variations than you or I would have ever thought of.
Checked at the liquor store tonight…I can get 151-proof vodka at their other location nearer my home. Or, I can write to the State of Ohio and explain what I want to do with the Everclear and they will send me a note so that I can buy it…but he didn’t say from where…hmmm…a permission slip for Everclear…