Limoncello - how long will it keep?

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crabjoe

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I'm thinking about making some Limoncello, but I'm not sure how much to make because I don't know how long it might keep.

I keep reading that limoncello only keeps for 1-3 months in the fridge and up to a year, if kept in the freezer.

How can that be when most Limoncellos have an ABV of 15-20%? I'm confused since it's got more alcohol then most wines and they're saying it has to be kept in the fridge... Why is that? Why can't I make Limoncello and just keep a bottle on the shelf for year or more?
 

cmason1957

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I'm thinking about making some Limoncello, but I'm not sure how much to make because I don't know how long it might keep.

I keep reading that limoncello only keeps for 1-3 months in the fridge and up to a year, if kept in the freezer.

How can that be when most Limoncellos have an ABV of 15-20%? I'm confused since it's got more alcohol then most wines and they're saying it has to be kept in the fridge... Why is that? Why can't I make Limoncello and just keep a bottle on the shelf for year or more?
I have bottles in my basement that are approaching 3 years, just as good as the day they were bottled. Mine might be a touch higher in ABV than 15%. But probably only around 25-30%. Never spent the time to figure it out.
 

crabjoe

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I have bottles in my basement that are approaching 3 years, just as good as the day they were bottled. Mine might be a touch higher in ABV than 15%. But probably only around 25-30%. Never spent the time to figure it out.
Thanks.. I was thinking what I was reading was wrong. I did find a few posts stating there was no issues with keeping it at room temp, but those never gave any time frame.

I'm going to try and make some.. probably in the 20-30% abv range and just keep it stored on the shelf somewhere... if it goes bad, which I doubt, oh well, lesson learned.
 

NorCal

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I’ve got a batch in the works now. I shoot for 30% abv, so I can keep it in the freezer. I know at that abv it will keep for years, but never lasts that long.
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jumby

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1-2 years easily in the cellar. Probably longer then that due to the high ABV. On a side note I use 195 proof Everclear, not vodka. limencello.jpg
 

winemanden

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Limomcello does NOT have to be kept in the fridge or freezer. The reason for doing that is for drinking it very chilled. Some people even put their glasses in the freezer just to make sure it stays cold. Don't worry, keep it cool and the alcohol will preserve it. They were making and drinking Limoncello in Italy God knows how many years before fridges and freezers were invented. Make it and enjoy it, it's wonderful stuff.:):)
 

NorCal

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Limomcello does NOT have to be kept in the fridge or freezer. The reason for doing that is for drinking it very chilled. Some people even put their glasses in the freezer just to make sure it stays cold. Don't worry, keep it cool and the alcohol will preserve it. They were making and drinking Limoncello in Italy God knows how many years before fridges and freezers were invented. Make it and enjoy it, it's wonderful stuff.:):)
I only have the bottle we are working on in the freezer, the others are patiently waiting their turn in a nice dark cool place.
 

Kraffty

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The issue is not that the limoncello goes "bad" but that the flavor can lessen over time as the strength of the zest flavor diminishes. Having said that, I have bottles up to 4 years old now, stored in varied conditions and they still taste fine.
Mike
 

cmason1957

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One thing I do differently than the bottles pictured above, I put mine in a regular wine bottle, with a wine cork in them. Next one to be consumed goes in the freezer.
 

Boatboy24

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I only have the bottle we are working on in the freezer, the others are patiently waiting their turn in a nice dark cool place.
Same. One in the freezer, the rest in the basement with the wine. Except for the bottle that my sister made with my recipe and gave me back in May. That's still in a kitchen cabinet. Not the least bit worried about it, as the ABV is so high.
 

Boatboy24

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One thing I do differently than the bottles pictured above, I put mine in a regular wine bottle, with a wine cork in them. Next one to be consumed goes in the freezer.
I use the 'flip top' bottles like the ones on the right in that pic. At some point, I'll have to replace the gaskets, but they've all been good for several years/batches so far.
 

BernardSmith

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I am sure that there are dozens of ways of making this but I might zest a dozen lemons (no pith) and cover this with the contents of a bottle of vodka. Allow the zest to steep for about a month, agitating the container (which you have sealed to prevent the alcohol from evaporating) every day or so. I would then make a simple syrup with sugar dissolved in water and add this by taste to get the sweetness I want (it might be 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water) or 1.5 cups of that syrup or ??? You might make the simple syrup with the juice of those lemons rather than water but if you do I would freeze the juice after you zest the lemons 'cause the juice won't taste fresh by the time you come to make the syrup.
 

winemaker81

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I've had limoncello last as long as 3 years -- the shelf life would have been longer than that, had the batch been larger.

;)

As with wine, ABV level affects shelf life. Stronger batches will last longer.

My recipe uses 2x 1.75 liter bottles of vodka (80 proof) and the zest of 10 # lemons. I put this in a 1 gallon/4 liter jug and cap it. I shake it daily for a week, weekly for a month, then let it set another 2-5 months. I strain the lemon base through coffee filters -- depending on the sediment from the zest, this can take a lot of filters. But the result is crystal clear, so it's worth it.

[I run the naked lemons through a juicer, add bentonite, and store in the fridge for a week, then siphon off the sediment. The resulting juice is milky, but very tasty.]

For myself, I use 1 cup sugar syrup (Bernard's ratio is what I use) with 3 cups lemon base. The result is about 60 proof/30% alcohol. I bottle in 375 ml bottles and cork 'em.

For others, I make it sweeter, as much as 2 cups syrup to 1 cup lemon base (NOT my taste, sickly sweet IMO).

I tried making Lime-oncello about 5 years ago. I used lime zest instead of lemon. It smelled fantastic, but had almost no taste. I did a small batch as an experiment and produced 5x 375 ml bottles. Two ended up on a back shelf and ignored for several years. I spotted them and decided to use them up.

Wow! The taste developed during aging, not what I expected. Unfortunately I only had 2 bottles remaining ...

If the ABV is at least 12%, I recommend NOT storing under refrigeration. Store the limoncello at room/cellar temperature. Flavors may develop during aging.
 

robert81650

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Thanks winemaker 81. I’m gonna try and see what happens. Thanks for you info
 

cmason1957

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As another recipe (they are all very similar) I put two big bottles of CostCo Vodka into a 3 gallon carboy, I don't recall how big the bottles are, but they filled it more than half way so maybe they are 3 liter bottles. Added the zest of 3 bags of lemons. Let sit for 40 days and 40 nights, shaking every so often. Strained out using coffee filters to another 3 gallon. Then added 2 :1 sugar water and let sit for another 40 days and nights. Filtered using a gravity filter and then bottled. We got 15 bottles from the result. Oh so very tasty. Probably a bit lower in alcohol than some of the others, but a nice sipping liquor, that sneaks up on you. Have had many friends leave with someone else driving.
 
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