Taking a drive along the Amalfi coast through the steep and rocky terrain it’s easy to become distracted by the stunning terraced gardens bursting with lemon trees. These lemon trees have been growing here for over 200 years, dotting the area with two varieties of lemons and, three times a year you can catch proud farmers harvesting them as you drive by.
A couple of centuries ago lemon production involved the whole town. Every lemon was harvested one by one and sold individually. The women then carried the fruit downhill in large baskets on their shoulders. Fishermen later transferred the harvest to large ships moored offshore. Today, the farmers continue to build new terraces carrying on the traditions of bringing lemon harvests up and down the stone steps. Lemons are still handpicked, crated and loaded on the farmer’s back.
Lemon Trees in Ravello, Italy
The Sfusato Amalfitano and Limone de Sorrento
Grown along the Amalfi Coast, the Sfusato Amalfitano variety is famous for their elongated and pointed shape while the Limone di Sorrento that are found on the Sorrento coastline are more plump. Both are so intense in color and their skins so rich in essential oil that they’re commonly added to salads, and regularly used in marinades, sauces and in seafood dishes, to season green vegetables and also to add tangy sweetness to desserts, like Mamma Agata’s famous lemon cake!
Mamma Agata's Famous Lemon Cake
So, when life hands you such a bounty of large, luscious lemons why stop at cooking and baking with them when you can sip limoncello? Ahhh… limoncello. I can’t think of a better way to end a long and fulfilling day of touring southern Italy than with a serving of biscotti and a short glass of liquid sunshine to tickle my taste buds.
Tastings of Delicious Limoncello at Mamma Agata's Cooking School of the Amalfi Coast
For those of you who don’t know, limoncello is a gorgeous sweet and tangy liqueur made from the zest of the lemon that is enjoyed very cold on its own or in a cocktail. It uses the rind of Amalfi lemons soaked in either grain alcohol or vodka to release the oils and then mixed with sugar and water.
Take in the bright yellow color and the lemon scent then close your eyes and I’m fairly certain the experience will follow you home with dreams of returning for more.
Carol Ketelson is the owner of Delectable Destinations. To book your once-in-a-lifetime culinary vacation to Italy, please contact her today to discuss the upcoming itineraries for 2014