Gadget Day: Serrated peeler (recipe: Limoncello)

Last Christmas, Santa put a lovely new Oxo serrated peeler in my stocking, just in time for my annual Limoncello-making marathon. As I pulled it out on January 1st, I was reminded of just how much I enjoy this gadget.

I wrote about different kinds of peelers back in September. Specific peelers are good for specific jobs – for this particular one, peeling two dozen lemons, the serrated is the best. I wanted to peel just the yellow part of the lemon, leaving the white pith, which would cause bitterness in the Limoncello.

Lemon Peels and Rosemary
Lemon Peels and Rosemary

Holding the lemon in the palm of my left hand and using the peeler with my right hand, I start at the far end of the lemon and draw the peeler toward me. This is a slow peel, not like a fast potato peeling, and I move carefully around the lemon, capturing all the peel.

I peel the lemons directly into large jars; add a sprig of rosemary and a bottle of Everclear. After 40 days, I will add a bottle of 100 proof Vodka, along with sugar water. Another 40 days of rest for the Limoncello, and then it is ready to strain into individual jars for gift giving or personal use.

Rosemary Limoncello

  • 15 Meyer lemons, washed
  • 1 4-inch piece fresh rosemary
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) 100-proof vodka
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Everclear (or 100 proof vodka, if you cannot find Everclear)
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

Peel lemons with a sharp vegetable peeler, taking only the top layer of zest and none of the white pith. Put zest and rosemary in 1-gallon glass or ceramic container.

Pour bottle of vodka over zest and rosemary. Seal container, and let sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days.

After 40 days, continue with recipe. Bring 5 cups of water to boil and add the sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pour syrup and Everclear over lemon/vodka mixture, stir and reseal container. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 40 more days.

After second 40 day period, your Limoncello is ready to go. Pour it through cheesecloth into large pitcher and then into smaller gift bottles. I found great bottles at Specialty Bottles. Serve ice cold before or after dinner. Limoncello is traditionally kept in the freezer between servings.

Note: I am trying this is as a new feature for the new year – each week, I plan to highlight a tool that I find useful in my kitchen, along with suggestions and a recipe for use. Let me know what you think. And, if you have any gadgets you are trying to figure out, let me know, I would love to experiement!


  1. Whoo! That’s some high-octane stuff. 🙂 I use Everclear and mix it down with simple syrup; ideally it brings the proof back down to about 80, still high enough to keep from freezing solid. I love that you added rosemary — I’ve been meaning to dabble with adding flavors to my limoncello; mint and black pepper are the top of my list. And those bottles are adorable! I’ve been getting cute swing-top flasks from Container Store.

  2. I wonder how well it would go with cloves or allspice.

  3. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    mixing the Everclear and vodka seems to be a good match. It is heavily alcoholic, I will give you that. But this combo of lemons and sugar water tempers the whole thing.

    Rosemary was a suggestion from Sunset, and since it grows like a weed in our yard, was easy to implement. Mint and black pepper would be interesting too.

    Thanks for the reco on the bottles from Container Store – I had trouble finding good ones the first time out.


  4. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    so, here is the interesting things about lemons and me. To me, lemons scream summer. But they are ripe in the winter. And because it is served ice cold, I feel as though my limoncello needs to be balanced for summer consumption, when it is hot enough to appreciate a really cold drink. As it is, the batch I put up Jan 1 won’t be ready until late March. However, warmer spices might work fine then – I wonder how gingerroot or star anise would be? Next batch!

  5. Fantastic! I whipped up a huge batch of “Kahlua” for holiday gifts this year and it was well received. It’s only January and I already have my gift idea for ’09! Thanks!

  6. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    ok, this begs the question – how do you make Kahlua?

    Glad you visited Carolee!

  7. I agree on this gadget, I use a microplane zester for this task and I think it has no equal. You can get all the zest, zero pith, and cut the time of the task in half versus a vegetable peeler.

    Bens last blog post..Commercial Limoncello Reviews

  8. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    humm, interesting. I am willing to give the microplane zester a try for this (since I love that gadget!) however, I am not seeing how it would actually be faster. And I find that when I zest a whole lemon/lime, the sucker starts getting slippery and I cannot hold onto it as well. I have cut myself a couple times with my microplaner.

    Next time I put together a batch of Limoncello, I will give it a try, although I am somewhat doubtful!


  9. I could use a bottle of that in my desk drawer. Especially when the photo tool goes awry.

  10. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    I will bring you one next time I stop by – but you have to keep in the freezer, it is best served ice cold 🙂

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