It is a common sight to see large lemons, at least double the size of average lemons, growing in terraced gardens along the Amalfi coast, in Italy.
The special citrus are scientifically known as Sfusato Amalfitano and are protected with a geographic indication status (I.G.P.). The lemons are so called because they have a pointed end which looks much like a spindle, a fuso in Italian.
Sfusato Amalfitano lemons grow only in the micro-climate of the Amalfi Coast which provides them with perfect conditions: volcanic soil, subtropical climate, and plentiful rainfall. Some mosaics and frescoes found in Pompeii show lemon trees very similar to the Sfusato variety, which can only mean that these fruits were known even in Roman times.
Besides their impressive size and pointed end, Sfusato Amalfitano can be easily recognized by their elongated shape and very pale yellow skin. Those unfamiliar with this variety of lemons will have the surprise to find that they hide inside very few seeds and an almost sweet pulp that can be eaten raw. The fruit yields no less than 25% of its volume in juice.
The wonderful golden fruits are also known to have high vitamin C content. Because of this medicinal property, their cultivation was very much intensified between 1500 and 1800 being very much treasured by sailors for warding off scurvy.
Researchers at the Universities of Salerno and Reggio Calabria have also shown that the peel of the Amalfi Coast lemon has an elevated number of oil glands and a superior flavoring power compared to other varieties of lemons. Because they are unwaxed, Sfusato lemons are ideal for recipes which call for lemon zest or peel. Actually, the Amalfi lemon is widely regarded by cooks as the prince among lemons (rivaled only by its Sicilian brethren).
60% of the Sfusato lemon harvest is used locally to make the famous Limoncello, a traditional liqueur born at the beginning of the twentieth century. Limoncello is typically made with lemon rind, alcohol, and simple syrup. The authorship of the recipe though is disputed by people from Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri, three towns gathered between a few miles.
Nowadays Limoncello is exported and consumed almost worldwide.
Limoncello bottles. Photo by Jorge Royan/ CC BY SA 3.0. Source: commons.wikimedia.org
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