Lemon: Eureka! From the antiquity

Your acne-killer secret weapon from the beautiful land of Campania.

The lemon is a little tree native from Asia. The plant is an evergreen and produces rounded yellow fruits: in fact they can range in size from a large egg to a small grapefruit. Pay attention that a green colour means unripeness!

The lemon fruit is used for various purposes; the most famous is for its juice, but also the pulp and rind fit well in cooking. The lemon has a juice that is about 6% citric acid: that's why they have a sour taste. The citric acid is also great in killing some types of bacteria known to causes acne. The lemon juice with its distinctive taste is a perfect ingredient in drinks and foods: lemonade - of course!, soft drinks, in marinades for fish and meat. Lemon juice is frequently added to pancakes, especially on Shrove Tuesday in the United Kingdom.

Lemons

Naples: the land of lemons

One of the most famous varieties of Italian lemon is the Femminello St. Teresa, or Sorrento. The illustration of the lemon in ancient mosaics and paintings found in the excavations of Pompeii shows its common use in the Neapolitan area, since at least the eleventh century onwards. This citrus fruit has fit very well to Campania's land: it almost became one with it. It’s impossible to imagine the Amalfi and Sorrento Coasts without their charming, delicious gardens, so pleasant smelling. The Medical School of Salerno played began to spread the medicinal use of it, giving to lemon a new important role outside the cuisine.

The Sfusato Amalfitano is the variety tipically used in the making of limoncello; there are strict rules for its production, managed by the Consortium for the exploitation of Amalfi Coast Lemons (COVAL), so that it becomes the "traditional liqueur of Costa D'Amalfi Lemons". The Sfusato Amalfitano has several elements in common with the Femminello St. Teresa:

  • the production time goes from March to October;
  • it's cultivated in a typical calcareous stone, a famous characteristic of that landscape;
  • farmers use straw mats to protect the lemon trees from the weather conditions;
  • it's ripening period is quite regular.

Lemons in the past

The Jews of Jerusalem knew well the lemon: they literally bashed a high priest with them during a festival in the 90s BC! The first appearance of lemons in Europe was in southern Italy in the 1st century, but at that time hardly anybody cultivated them. They were later introduced to the rest of the ancient world around 700 AD.

The lemon was first found in literature in an Arabic treatise on farming from the 10th century, and was also used as an ornamental plant in Islamic gardens. The first considerable European cultivation began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century. In 1493 Christopher Columbus, on his voyages around the world, filled his vessels with lemon seeds: the lemon finally reached the Americas! Then Spanish conquest in the rest of the new world spread the plant again and again.

Main lemon varieties around the world

  • Eureka (or Four Seasons) is the plant that produces lemons you may find in your supermarket. Fruits are available all over the year;
  • the Lisbon is a bitter lemon with high juice and acid levels, the fruits of Lisbon are very similar to Eureka. The trees are very thorny, strong and productive, especially when the plant is young;
  • the Variegated Pink is a sub-class of the Eureka and Lisbon varieties, with the rinds of green fruit and beautiful multicolor patterns in the foliage. The variegated pattern recedes in the fruit rind upon maturing to yellow. The flesh and juice are pink instead of yellow;
  • the Verna is a Spanish variety, whose origins are not well known today;
  • the Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and an orange or a mandarin. It was named after Frank N. Meyer, who first discovered it in 1908. Meyer lemons are very delicate, they must be shipped with extreme care in order not to damage their skin; that's why they are not widely grown. They are slightly less acidic than the Lisbon and Eureka lemons and resist a little more to frost than other varieties;
  • the Yen Ben, that comes from the Australasia area.

Lemon juice is great for your house

The juice of the lemon is great for cleaning your house. The juice of lemon is a perfect deodorizer and it can remove grease, bleach stains and also disinfect; it removes stains from plastic food storage containers when mixed with baking soda. It can also be used as a fantastic non toxic (that's important!) insecticide and also has an important role in the aromatherapy: Ohio State University found that the aroma of the lemon (or, better, the lemon oil) may enhance mood. The lemon juice is also a powerful antibacterial because of its low pH: in fact In India the lemon is used in the local traditional medicines.

Sources

wikipedia.org - Lemon

food.com - Kitchen Dictionary: lemon

beliefnet.com - 15 Hidden Health Secrets of Lemons

tasteofsorrento.sorrentoinfo.com - Limone di Sorrento

wikipedia.org - Limone di Sorrento

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