Thursday, 12 December 2013


Limoncello - what's that all about, then?

Limoncello is the Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi. 

Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Femminello St Teresa lemons, also known as Sorrento lemons or Sfusato lemons. This lemon variety is so particularly sweet that locals eat thick slices of the fruit, skin and all, with, perhaps, just a dusting of sugar. To make limoncello, lemon zest, or peels without the pith, are steeped in grain alcohol until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. Clarity and viscosity are affected by factors like the relative temperatures of the two liquids. Opaque limoncellos are the result of spontaneous emulsification, otherwise known as the Ouzo Effect, of the sugar syrup and extracted lemon oils. Limoncello imparts a strong lemon flavour without the sourness or bitterness of lemon juice. 

Italy is the world's largest producer of lemons so, naturally, Italians have developed a way to use the plentiful fruit. Citrus trees dot the landscape throughout Italy but along the Amalfi Coast you will find lemon trees growing in abundance.

As in all of Italy, growing and producing agricultural-based products follows strict guidelines to ensure integrity of the end product. Methods of cultivation are region specific and the lemons from the Sorrentine Peninsula and the island of Capri follow the rules for the Limone di Sorrento IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) resulting in, most arguably, the best limoncello. It has only been in the last century that limoncello has been commercially produced.

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