RECIPES BEHIND LEMONS
Lemons are the quintessential Italian summer fruit used to make the liqueur limoncello and, for centuries, have inspired citrusy late-summer dishes and desserts.
Italian lemons have an intense green foliage and are grown on the plains of Sorrento, a coastal town in southwestern Italy that overlooks the Bay of Naples; the hills of Massa Lubrense, which is located about 25 km southeast of Naples in the Italian region Campania; and along the Amalfi Coast.
This noble fruit has the perfect balance between sugary sweetness and tart acidity, a singular aroma that makes it unmistakable from any other lemon on the planet.
The ‘Limone di Massa Lubrense’ or ‘Massese’ are known for their oval shape, strong perfume, rich pulp, acid-sweetness, and few seeds. Lemons cultivated on the Amalfi Coast offer an intense flavour and perfume, acidic juice, and pale yellow skin (and the Sorrento lemon is one of the richest lemons in ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C).
Most of these lemons are grown year round on small farms, often less than a hectare in size (producing 10-12 tons per hectare), and require intensive cultivation and heavy use of manpower due to a particularly difficult farming system.
Taste can be attributed to the soil, the sun, and the air in which the lemons are grown. This is what makes them so special and unique, and why they have an IGP designation (a name-place designation similar to DOC classification of wines).
Naturally, lemons from the sorrento-amalfi coast have organoleptic characteristics that are embraced by the regional and national kitchen, manly in ice creams and cakes, but also in main courses of meat and fish.
Nearly 60 percent of these lemons are used to produce limoncello, a lemony liqueur with international appeal. Limoncello is prepared with the epicarp of the fruit and can assume different tonality of yellow-green due to the degree of maturation of lemons. Visitors to to Amalfi Coast rarely leave without a small bottle of limoncello.
The success of limoncello has given rise to small factories for the production of bottles, generally painted with views of the Amalfi Coast, as well as the production of cakes, gadgets, ceramic, and cloth inspired by the lemons.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on authentic Sorrento lemons, we offer a little inspiration with these lemony recipes for main courses and desserts:
- Lemon and Pesto Fishcakes with Pesto Tartare Sauce
- Sea Bass with Lemon and Dill
- Fresh Pasta with Lemon Scallops
- Lemon and Basil Linguini
- Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
- Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic