Okay, this experiment was (apparently) deliciously successful and fuel for years of pregnant lady anecdotal material.

Martha Stewart’s special holiday issue this year had a recipe to make homemade limoncello, the intensely strong, super lemony Italian liquer. I thought this was the perfect gift for a few choice people on my list, so I decided to make it. Now, remember that I couldn’t actually taste test it all. So I have no idea how it came out flavorwise, except what Adam and friends have told me. They said it was great.

The first thing it required was 160-proof vodka or grain alcohol. Adam took to the interwebs to do some research and discovered how difficult it is to find 160-proof anything. Most sensible booze tops out at about 140, and the next highest we could find was 190-proof Everclear. It’s actually illegal to sell in several US states, but NJ is not one of them. Our local liquor store had it. We decided to go big or go home with this one and go for the Everclear. This led to me waddling 6 months pregnant into the store for Everclear, sure they would never sell it to me. Not only did they sell it to me, but the nice young man working there helped me get the 2 bottles I needed since they were on the bottom shelf. Bending over is not my friend. So I left very pregnant and double-fisting something Guinness Book of World Records once declared “the most alcoholic beverage.”

But it was all going to a good cause. This is so easy to make but takes a good week to prepare, but apparently it’s worth it. And it’s a gorgeous yellow color. Martha’s original recipe is here, but I made several adjustments to it for strength and quantity of alcohol I used–more lemons, more water and sugar. Again, I haven’t actually tasted this, so you’ll have to poll my friends and family to get the truth about how it came out. Or ask me in a few months when I can try it myself. So here’s my version:

Homemade Limoncello (adapted from Martha Stewart)
This will produce 1.5 liters of limencello, which fit nicely into the bottles pictured above. I actually made 2 batches with 2 bottles of Everclear so we’d end up with about 3 liters total.

9 lemons, preferably organic
1 bottle (1/2 liter) of 190-proof Everclear
2.5 cups sugar
2.5 cups boiling water

Peel strips of zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler (note: this is really difficult if the lemons are soft. Make sure you use really fresh ones). Save the remaining lemons for something else, you only need the peels for this.

Combine the zest and the Everclear in an airtight container and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 days or up to 1 week (I left mine for a week and a day!).

When the peels have steeped for as long as you want them to, stir together the sugar and water until completely dissolved. Combine the sugar mixture and the Everclear mixture in an airtight container. This is when it goes from vaguely yellow and clear to super cloudy and bright yellow!

Refrigerate the mixture overnight. Pour liquid through a large sieve to filter out the zest (discard the zest).

Use a funnel to divide the limoncello into airtight bottles. I got mine at The Container Store. And that’s it, that’s all you have to do. I wrote the recipe out on gift tags so the giftee could make more when it ran out. According to the recipe, the limoncello will last up to 3 months if stored in the freezer. I suspect it will last longer than that, since good Italian limoncello lives on the shelf forever.