Typical products of the Amalfi Coast: the Amalfi Coast IGP Lemon
The Amalfi Coast is rich in exceptional typical products, among which is the Costa d’Amalfi IGP lemon, also known as Sfusato Amalfitano for its characteristic tapered shape. Now famous throughout the world, it is cultivated on the typical terraces along the steep slopes of the coast. The harvest, carried out exclusively by hand, takes place several times a year, although the most valuable production is obtained between March and the end of July.
They call it ‘the yellow gold‘ and it has characteristics that distinguish it from other varieties. Medium to large in size (at least 100 grams per fruit), it is characterised by its elliptical shape and intense, aromatic fragrance due to its richness in essential oils and terpenes. The skin is medium thick and light yellow like the sun that shines here all year round. The flesh is juicy, moderately acidic and with a limited number of seeds. Moreover, as recent studies by the University of Naples Federico II have shown, it is among the richest varieties in vitamin C.
It is a fruit with beneficial effects on the body: it is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Delicious eaten in its natural state, it owes its fame above all to limoncello, the very popular sweet liqueur obtained by macerating lemon rinds in alcohol. But its use is not limited to the production of the famous liqueur, in fact it is widely used in cooking. There is no dish, fish or meat, that cannot be enriched with its juice, pulp or zest. It is also widely used in confectionery, where it can be found in the form of fragrant ‘delights’, limoncello babas, filled chocolates, puddings, biscuits, granitas and other typical local delicacies. Some bars even serve lemon coffee.
That of the Amalfi lemon is a centuries-old history that began in the 11th century, when the Arabs introduced its cultivation to Spain and Sicily and from there to Campania. And it was at this time that lemon groves appeared, renamed ‘gardens‘ for their care and beauty. But the real spread came about following the discovery that scurvy, the disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, could be prevented by drinking lemon juice. From the 15th century, given its undisputed therapeutic properties, there was a huge demand for Amalfi lemons. Thus began a flourishing maritime trade, leaving from Minori for numerous Italian and European ports. In the 19th century, about half of the production left for the United States.
For those who want to learn more, the Consorzio di Tutela del Limone Costa d’Amalfi IGP (Consortium for the Protection of the Amalfi Coast PGI Lemon) organises guided tours of the historical lemon groves, with visits to the harvesting centres that take care of the selection and processing process and to the artisanal liqueur factories where limoncello is made.