Leftover limoncello

When life gives you lemon rinds, make homemade limoncello!

This classic Italian liqueur is extremely easy to make, and lets you use up those leftover lemon rinds.

Most of the recipes I found online tell you to peel the lemons so you don’t get any of the bitter white pith, but this felt like a waste to me. So I tried it with the whole squeezed-out lemon rinds and just added a bit more sugar. If you find this recipe too bitter, next time just use lemon peels of 10 lemons.


6 / 4 leftover lemons
1 litre / 750ml vodka
250g / 200g granulated sugar
250ml / 200ml water


Big sealable jar or container
Big saucepan
Wooden spoon
Fine sieve/cheesecloth/coffee filters
Bottle for storage – can reuse the original vodka bottle


1. Grab a clean, sealable jar or container that is big enough to hold all the ingredients. Pour in all the vodka.

2. Add your leftover lemons as they appear. Whenever I cooked with lemon juice last month, I popped the rinds in my vodka jar.

3. Continue to add lemons until you’ve got 4 or 6 in there. As you want the lemons to infuse for at least a month, it doesn’t matter if it takes a while to get up to 6. It makes quite a nice decoration in the meantime! Some of mine started browning after 3 weeks so I took them out. After the last lemon is added, wait about a week.

4. After about a month has passed since you added your first lemon, it’s time to turn the liquor into a liqueur! Heat the water in a saucepan on a medium heat, and add the sugar. Stir constantly for about 5 mins until it has dissolved to make a syrup.

5. Allow the syrup to cool, and then add the alcohol. Do this by putting a cheesecloth, fine sieve or coffee filter over the saucepan, pour in, and stir. Voilà! Or I should say, ecco! You have limoncello.

6. Now you have rinsed the lemon rinds for all their worth, put them in your food bin – I’m not sure if alcohol is good for compost heaps.

7. Store your liqueur in a bottle in the fridge. Traditionally, limoncello is served ice-cold, so you can transfer to the freezer an hour before serving. Some simply store it in the freezer, but this means waiting for it to thaw before you can pour it out (alcohol at 40% proof like your typical vodkas will freeze). Don’t drink it all at once!

Published by foodwastestories

The first food waste magazine.

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