Why These Big, Weird Lemons Are The Secret To Limoncello | Regional Eats

Why These Big, Weird Lemons Are The Secret To Limoncello | Regional Eats

Claudia Romeo: We are at Villa Divina, a wonderful villa on the Amalfi Coast in the city of Vietri, where they grow lemons
that, as you can see, can reach very, very big sizes. Here they have about 600 lemon trees, and it’s all grown using no pesticides. They’re all handpicked, and this is where the
production line starts. So, we’re gonna go and
see how they’re harvested. Limoncello is one of the most
popular Italian liqueurs. The yellow drink is
made in southern Italy, in particular in the sunny Sicily, the Gulf of Naples, and the Amalfi Coast. Mostly because these areas
offer the perfect soil and weather conditions to grow lemons. Villa Divina supplies lemons to Pallini, a company established in 1875 in a small village near Rome that specializes in Italian liqueurs such as Sambuca and Mistrà. Pallini Limoncello production
started in the ’90s, and today Pallini makes
almost 1 million liters of the lemon liqueur per year. Micaela Pallini: Limoncello
is a very traditional Italian liqueur; it’s
really a family tradition. Most Italian families do it at home. The key to Limoncello is the quality of its ingredients and the procedure. So, as every family, especially being a producer of liqueur, we had our proprietary family recipe, and around the end of the,
during the ’90s, actually, Limoncello became fashionable, also more of an industrial production, not just a family recipe, and so we started
producing our own recipe. Also family recipes, generally, are very high in alcohol proof, so what we did, we had
to counterbalance it in order to have the flavor
of the perfumes come out and become balanced with the
tartness and the sweetness so that none of them overcomes the other. Claudia: The type of lemon used for making Pallini Limoncello is the Sfusato Amalfitano, also known as Amalfi lemon. These lemons are protected by the Protected Geographical
Indication, or PGI, from the EU, delimiting a specific area
where they can be grown that comprises the 13
towns of the Amalfi Coast. Approximately 100,000 tons of lemons are harvested each year in
40 hectares across the coast. A key quality of the Amalfi lemons is that they are grown
using no pesticides. Micaela: This special
lemon cannot really travel because it’s not classified organic, but the way it’s grown is very similar to an organic lemon, so these lemons, if you have them in your fridge, actually go bad after two, three weeks. They don’t resist. If you buy them in the supermarket, you see the lemons can stay for months without really changing anything, but these are lemons that… the lemon peel is extremely
rich in lemon oils. If you dig your fingernail in the peel, you actually see the lemon oil coming out, so rich as it is, and this gives the Limoncello
totally a different flavor. Claudia: So, this is one of
the freshly harvested lemons, and here at Pallini they say
that these lemons are special not just because they are massive but also because they are the only lemons that you can literally eat like an apple. So, we’re gonna put this to the test and literally bite into this lemon slice. Wow… incredible but true, this is the first lemon that I have that tastes almost sweet. Like, the inside in here,
of course, it’s a bit tangy, but it’s not, you know, you don’t get the same
reaction when you go like, ugh, that was really strong, when you eat, like, your
standard supermarket lemon. But what’s interesting is the zest here. It’s very soft. It’s not really an apple; it’s even softer than an apple. I would say this is like melon, maybe? You know, one of those,
like, orangey lemons that are, like, very, very soft and juicy. And now there is no aftertaste; I could, like, easily finish this. It’s really, like, a good
snack to have on its own. The average weight of an Amalfi lemon is no fewer than 100 grams. And the lemons are typically harvested between spring and summer. When they’re ready, lemons
are harvested by hand, peeled, sealed, and then sent to Pallini’s distillery
in Rome within 24 hours. Claudia: During the infusion,
the lemon peel transfers all its flavor and richness to the alcohol to get the yellow liqueur
we call Limoncello. This is why the use of a
superior-quality lemon, like the Amalfi lemon, is so important. Micaela: This means that,
when you do the infusions, the key, the heart of Limoncello, is the lemon-peel infusion, and you cannot wash the
lemons with chemicals, otherwise it would have
them in the infusion. This is why it’s so important that there are no pesticides on the peel, because otherwise in the alcohol infusion you would extract the pesticides even before extracting
the flavor of the lemons. Moreover, these peels are very, very thin, and this, and very rich in lemon oils, and this makes the infusion even much richer in perfumes and flavor and it gives it a special sweet tartness that Limoncello Pallini has. Claudia: A sample of
the infusion is tested to establish the alcoholic
strength by volume and correct it, if necessary. After that, the Limoncello
is ready to be bottled. The production line at
Pallini’s distillery in Rome bottles 9,000 liters every half hour. Snacking lemons on the Amalfi Coast. How can you get more local than this?

26 comments on “Why These Big, Weird Lemons Are The Secret To Limoncello | Regional Eats

  1. As Nature was so generous to gift Amalfi with sweet lemons then enjoy the Dolce Vita… 😀😎😘

  2. For a small country, Italy is culturally very rich. Maybe even the richest in Europe, and up there with China and India.

  3. My mom's mom gave me a lemon like this that was all wrinkly and huge. I am ashamed to say I stayed away from it thinking it was some mutated fuckery

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