Lemons and Limoncello from Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Lemons grow in abundance from trees that cling from the cliffs of the spectacularly beautiful Amalfi coast.  It is along this steep and jagged coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea that huge lemons are harvested three times every year.  Amalfi lemons possess a unique sweetness that results from a combination of the volcanic soil, year-round warm temperatures, and a perfect amount of rain.

In the kitchens (cucine) of every ristorante, trattoria, or home along this divine coast, lemons are a part of the life and cuisine of the locals and used for everything from cooking, to cleaning, to beauty treatments.  As always, nothing is wasted in Italy.

During the last week of my trip in Italy, all of my senses were immersed into the influence that lemons have in Italian cooking.   Mid-week, my mother and I ventured into the dream-like mountainside town of Positano where rainbow-colored buildings appear to be carved out of the rock.  We drove down the spiraling road into the town for a class on how to make limoncello and to learn more about the difference between various olive oils.  It was so interesting and we certainly learned more about lemons and olive oil from Italy.

yes, that is the road at the top of the photo . . . literally, a true cliff-hanger!
a closer view of the nail-biting Amalfi Coast drive that lives up to it’s infamous reputation!
just one view of Positano, Italy and the beautiful blue sea
homes are built on top of each other in the very little amount of space in Italy!
Population density of Italy:  514 people per square mile,
a country that is not even as large as the state of California
Population density of the United States:  84 people per square mile!
Space is a premium in Italy and when you include thousands of tourists, Italy is very crowded.
lovely, luscious, limoncello while dining al fresco
road-side lemon stands abound everywhere, as well as in the markets
enormous lemons the size of baseballs!
our first stop on the Amalfi Drive . . . a small market stand of a local woman where we purchased her home-grown and home-made limoncello,
olives, olive oil, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes . . . all delicious!
shops filled with beautifully and creatively designed bottles
containing the Italian liquid gold elixir
window displays of limoncello and orange liqueurs
tempt you to stop in and purchase a bottle or two
tempting displays of lemons and limoncello in baskets outside one shop
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OK, so where’s the recipe for limoncello and step-by-step photos?
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They’re coming, I just needed to share more of the prevalence of lemons
and the color ‘yellow’ in the landscape!
Lemon-flavored Italian cookies (Zuccherini) . . .
oh these were SO good, not too sweet and oh so lemon-y!
You can click here for my family’s delicious recipe for “Zuccerini”
My family LOVES ‘torrone’ a sweet nougat candy with nuts from Italy!
While at a local festival for St. Luke in Praiano,
I bought a box of the limoncello-flavored torrone.
I remember my Nonna enjoying this candy every Christmas!
A lemon granita stand at the same festival for St. Luke in the village of Praiano.
Lemon granita is now one of favorite icey treats, oh so much better than snow cones!
Olive oil that is enhanced with the addition of lemon juice drizzled on bread
after the cooking class.  The flavor was so refreshing and light!
lemon motifs on Italian ceramiche brighten the walls of an open market in an Amalfi piazza
a ceramic-topped table beautifully hand-painted with lemons that almost came to
my home, had it not been for the price ($1000.00) and the price of shipping!
But oh how I fell in love with this little table!
In my dreams, huh?
However, I did give in to indulgence and purchased this lemon-colored sink with lemons and blue fig motifs!
We will certainly enjoy washing our hands in this beautiful creation
and remember the Amalfi Coast every time!
The yellow color of lemons carries over into the beauty
of the painted churches, homes, and shops.
This is a church in Sorrento, the furthest southern city on the peninsula
where you can take a boat over to the little island of Capri.
this lovely yellow house is located in Montecreto, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
and not on the Amalfi Coast.  Yellow and gold are simply very popular colors everywhere in Italy.
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OK, here’s the recipe for limoncello plus step-by-step photos
from our cooking class on the Amalfi Coast!

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Limoncello

20 large lemons
1 bottle Everclear (pure drinking alcohol)
4 cups of water (or more depending on the strength that you want the Limoncello)
4 cups of sugar (or more for the same reason as above)

Peel very thin slices of the lemon rinds, trying not to slice into the white flesh under the rind.
a perfectly skinned lemon with the white flesh remaining
put the rind slices into a big bowl; as you can see, some of us in the class of four students sliced off too much of the white flesh of the lemons
. . . other than my mother, we were certainly novices at this!
(The peels with the white pith weren’t used, but rather put aside for another use)
get the bottle of super-strong booze
pour the alcohol into a large jar or container in which to age the limoncello
add the lemon peels . . . see none of these have the white pith at all
cover and seal well
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every 3 days check on your lemon peel – alcohol mixture
and swirl the peels around a bit
allow the limoncello to marinate for 30 – 40 days
(depending on how strong you want your limoncello)
strain the lemon peels from the alcohol and discard the peels
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After the days are completed for marinating the lemon peels in the alcohol, proceed to make the sugar water:
measure your sugar
add equal amounts of water to the sugar in large pan/pot
bring the sugar and water to a high temperature for about 10 minutes
In a large bowl, pour in the strained, aged lemon and alcohol mixture
add the sugar-water to the lemon-alcohol mixture
stir well and pour back into big jars or containers; seal well.
allow the limoncello to ‘marry’ for an additional 30 – 40 days
Pour into pretty bottles!
my mother and me during our limoncello class
at the end we tasted various flavors of liqueurs:
strawberry-cello, limoncello, anise-cello, and coffee-cello
the limoncello was certainly the best!
after the class we had pasta for lunch in the restaurant
my mother enjoyed this bowl of Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce and Cheese
I decided on the Cheese-Stuffed Ravioli Caprese
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The tomatoes in Southern Italy have a flavor that is so unique and different from those grown in the States . . . more pungent, sharp, and tangy.
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And my oh my, is dining out in Italian ristoranti EXPENSIVE!  These three ravioli were $20.00!  We were so glad that we rented a villa and bought groceries from the local market where food was so cheaply priced!  For one week, we only spent $130.00 on food for the three of us and only ate out twice. . . . leaving more euro to spend in the shops!
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And just one more golden shot of the Amalfi Coast from the terrace of our villa in Praiano
where we would enjoy brilliant colored sunsets every evening . . .
with full tummies comforted a little bit more with Limoncello! 
Your comments make me smile and I promise to get back to you. I may be slow at it because I get easily distracted by something brewing in the kitchen or hummingbirds in my gardens.

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Comments

  1. Oh Roz, I am on a ‘lemon’ high from your beautiful post. I can close my eyes and smell the lemon-y goodness and the taste…..I would spend a fortune shopping in that adorable shop with the homemade products. And a bigger fortune shipping them home. What a fabulous culinary adventure you and your mom had (she is a cutie pie). The sea and sky are so blue….this post just spoke to my Italian soul. Beautiful. xo

  2. Roz, I just wanted to let you know that if I see one more of your tantalising, gorgeous posts about your trip to Italy I might just have to abandon my children and get on the first plane out of here and head there to Italy! OMG!!! It’s been my dream to go all my life and I am planning a trip there next year hopefully. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all your posts and they’ve given me so much information about where to go and where to stay. Thank you so much for all the information. I know where to come if I have any questions. Just beautiful!

    Anne xx

  3. First of all I love the photo of you and your mom, and those shops you would have to pry me out of there! I’m sure I would have one expensive shipping bill. Beautiful trip, especially because you got to share it with your parents!

  4. Beautiful photos. I too like the Amalfi Coast but those roads! I swear you go around the corner so tight you look for your bottom from the curve before. Looking down at all the houses and the water is just dreamy.

    I’m definitely going to make limoncello one of these days. :)

  5. Sweet photo of you and your mom… I have never seen so many lemon products…would love taste every single kind. Breathtakingly beautiful Amalfi and Italy!

  6. Mama mia! The volcanic soil of the Amalfi Coast may be exploding with lovely lemons but just like Anne, I’m bursting at the seams to go to Italy. As always, thank you for your heartfelt tales of your ancestors’ homeland.

  7. if life hands you lemons- make limoncello! LOL! The limoncello looks beyond amazing. Sweet and perfect! I loved seeing your mom for the first time! Ya’ll are sooo cute! If you get a chance check out my blog this week- I have a wonderful cookie tower giveaway!

  8. How fun to make limoncello with your mom. I can’t get over all of the limoncello and orange liqueurs offered there. The Amalfi coast is really, really pretty. I would have had a very hard time saying goodbye to Italy.
    Sam

  9. Oh, that last photo is phenomenal! Such a wonderful post. I’ve made limoncello twice…that peeling part is the worst, but the end product is wonderful. I think my book club wants me to make it again for their Christmas gifts! Great photo of you and your mom!!! Has your back finally recovered from your trip? xo

  10. You had me at limoncello~
    I spent a week in Positano last year… every litle bottle of limoncello, begged a sip. I have even made my own (a pitiful try at bringing in the flavor of Amalfi) I smiled at each photo of lemons on the Amalfi coast.
    Beautiful post!
    Ciao Bella~~~

  11. What a beautiful display of yellow! My favourites are the bottles photos – they are great!

  12. I believe you’ve convinced me that lemons are king there :-) . It’s hard to believe they live atop each other up the steep hillside. I just bought the Mamma Agata cookbook and have been looking at the Amalfi Coast on Google Earth and other pictures. The scenery is dazzling but the roads look like white knucklers. It’s great you and your mom had the opportunity to make this trip – I only wish you’d taken Bev and I along.

  13. Such gorgeous, gorgeous pictures! A great post. What a wonderful time you must have had, Roz. I’ve made limoncello a couple times, with vodka. Pennsylvania liquor stores just started stocking Everclear; I’ll give that a try. Is there still time for Christmas gifts!?! (And I MUST get to Amalfi!)

  14. Roz, this post is beautiful! I love this part of Italy, I spent a few days after my wedding travelling around la costa Amalfitana. In Sorrento I bought a set of small limoncello glasses/tray and I still have it! I use it only for drinking limoncello. My Mum makes her own limoncello (with Amalfi Lemons!!) and I always have a bottle at home (in my freezer!). You look so happy, what a beautiful experience.

  15. Hi Roz! Definitely definitely definitely feel free to email me! jhbruno87@gmail.com About anything medical related or even if you just want to chat!!

  16. Buonissimo il limoncello, e poi è anche molto versatile in cucina. Bellissima la foto con la tua mamma. Un abbraccio, buona giornata Daniela.

  17. Thanks for the great set of photos for us to go through. Our recent rip to the Amalfi Coast was glorious. It is truly a beautiful part of Italy. And I so love Limoncello.

  18. Oh what a gorgeous post and stunning photos of the area, of the shops, of the beautiful lemons. I agree with Marie that the best shot is the one of you and your mom. It’s so wonderful that you could share this beautiful trip. Those plates brought back memories of my last trip to the Amalfi coast. One of those lemon plates is hanging in my kitchen.

  19. What lovely and amazing post dear Roz really I love I love limoncello I would like to make (bbokmarked) I love all the pictures especially this about you and your Mom, what georgeous picture!!;)

  20. Great pictures. And thanks for the recipe. I also have my piece of lemon pottery from the Amalfi Coast. I don’t remember meals being so expensive though!

  21. Roz, I love lemons, and limoncello it is so refreshing. What a fun way to make memories with your Mother. Wonderful photos. xo

  22. What a beautiful post! The picture of you and your mom is precious…what wonderful memories!

  23. I just love the Amalfi coast…what I don’t love are the hair pin narrow roads and the crazy drivers. What a wonderful time you must have had with your mother.

  24. Oh I am so jealous! Your photos and story are wonderful. You are one lucky lady – I have dreamed of a trip to Italy. I want to make pasta with an old Italian woman who can’t speak English! Certainly a dream come true. Now I want to make limoncello!

  25. A wonderful post which came alive for me on the page as I know the Amalfi area very well.

  26. Oh my, that’s totally awesome!

  27. And I am sooo in love with your photography – something to aspire to! i love to be there

  28. Never knew Italy was so lemony. One of my favorite things to do is visit on vacation different locales and experience the different crops that are popular where we travel. It would be amazing to see lemon trees on the cliffs. Just seeing all the yellow in your photos was amazing. Great pics. And that road, I’d have to have a local drive me. Otherwise, my blood pressure would go through the roof : )

  29. been in Sorrento (close to Amalfi) for a conference, and guess how much did I follow the conference? ;) could not help just walking around and smelling the scent of the lemmons… beautiful post and pictures and recipe and you and your mom look just awesome with the colorful aprons!

  30. I bought a bottle as well :)

  31. Hi Roz,
    I have certainly enjoyed your recent travels, sigh! Just stopping by to wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!
    Miz Helen

  32. OMG! What a fabulous post. What a journey. I have been scratching my head because I have full tree of Meyer lemons. Oh, I so know what I am going to do now….. Limoncello!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Roz!

    Velva

  33. Roz, welcome home! I must catch up with you when I have some more time. I love every lemon in this post from the first photo to the last —even the sunset was lemon hued!

    I especially loved the photo of you and your Mom–how wonderful that you had this time together in Italy, making memories. When I visited my husband’s home town in Calabria there were also lemons everywhere and home made limoncello was the best! I own a few lemon themed souvenirs from that trip and one of the lemon plaques I bought you show in this post :)

  34. Your pictures are so gorgeous. What an adventure! I absolutely adore limoncello!

  35. Hallo Roz, I’m sorry but I don’t have the translate button and I don’t know how I can put it in my blog. If you have pleasure, I can help you in understanding my recipies, ask me, if you want. Kisses
    Carla Emilia

  36. Ciao ,bello il tuo blog mi sono unita hai tuoi lettori fissi passa ha trovarmi se ti va io sono ISABELLA ti aspetto smack

  37. Hola Roz: Te agradezco la visita y los comentarios en mi blog. Gracias a eso he podido conocer el tuyo, que me encanta.
    Me quedo de seguidora, creo que hay muchas cosas interesantes que quiero leer aquí.
    Un abrazo y buena semana

  38. great post honey , i really love all these photos!

    xx

  39. Oh, I love lemons and limoncello! A wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures with us.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  40. catherine g park says:

    I just got back from a 12 day mediterrian cruise and was searching for a recipe from the Sorrento area for the delicious lemon cakes with the limoncello in them. What a wonderful post you created. We only had a short tour of the area, but your photos have made me remember and almost taste and smell the lemons and limoncello, I will definitely be going back. Positano and Sorrento were amazing. Thanks again for creating your post and bringing back and wonderful memory and awesome taste experience.

  41. I’m sure you know it, but your picture are amazing and make me want to try limoncello this second. Thank you for sharing.
    Clara recently posted..10 Amazingly Healthy Uses for LemonsMy Profile

  42. This post is so refreshing visually and emotionally. Is not just about a wonderful place and great looking lemons :) , but also your style of writing is so full of life and love. You are a true inspiration and your blog is like a breath of air. Thank you.
    Catalina recently posted..Unbreakable:Three Codes that Have Not Been CrackedMy Profile

Trackbacks

  1. [...] So, where are lemons grown? On US soil, mainly in California and Arizona, although the lemon tree flourishes in temperate climes and is iconic to the mountainous landscape of Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, the birthplace of limoncello. [...]

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    Lemons and Limoncello from Italy’s Amalfi Coast…

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