Italian Lemons and Oranges juicy and perfumed

Do you remember la signora Maria from Calabria? I featured her last summer making passata and making bread in her stone oven at her farm in Calabria.
Now is the season of lemons and oranges and Maria and her husband Antonio, are very busy harvesting their beautiful perfumed citrus fruits.

Italian lemons are unique, of a superior quality, very juicy, with a deep yellow skin and have an incredible perfumed taste. In Naples the liquor “Limoncello” is made using the best lemons with thick yellow skin.  These types of lemons also make excellent creams, soaps and perfumes.

lemon tree

When I was in southern Italy, to be exact in Sicily some time ago over the lemon season I remember picking lemons from a tree, cutting them and squeezing the precious juice straight into my mouth.

You know what? The taste was so fresh and aromatic and the lemons had an interesting sweet taste. It was addictive and left my hands heavily perfumed of citrus for quite some time afterwards!

It was better than Chanel No 5 perfume 🙂

You see here Antonio cutting a lemon. I feel happy just looking at these photos. The bright colour of the lemon with the blue sky in the background makes me want to jump on a plane and be there too right away!

Harvesting lemons in Calabria

peeling lemon

peeling lemon

Lemons are actually native to India and Indochina and were known in Italy since Roman times.  The presence of lemon trees is found in some paintings in Pompeii dating back to the first century AD, although the first real Italian cultivation dates back to the fifteenth century in the area of Genoa.

The plant of lemon is tall and can reach 3 to 6 meters, it has oval evergreen leaves with beautiful white flowers. Lemon trees bloom and bear fruit twice a year, between September and March and they are found mainly in Southern Italy.
Have you ever made lemonade? Did you know it can last for a year without preservatives? The citric acid in the pulp acts as a natural preservative.

Lemon juice is also used as a condiment for salads, in fish dishes and in marinades. Squeeze some lemon juice over game or some red meat to remove its wild taste and add it to water to prevent fruits and vegetables from oxidating (turning black), this is common for instance with artichokes, apples and bananas.

I grew up drinking the juice of lemon and oranges in the morning. I was kind of shocked when I grew up and realized that people would buy juices in cartons and pretend it was “proper, healthy real juice” without bothering to squeeze it !

orange tree

As always when you rush with food and think you can take shortcuts you are going to be disappointed. Juice in a carton is something created and well marketed by the industries and branded as healthy; often it has sugar added and plenty of additives too!

Lemons act as a natural disinfectant, have antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties; they are used in pharmacology to produce creams or medicines useful for mouth ulcers, warts, callusescold and flu.

We all know the classic “hot water with lemon and honey” when we have a cough or cold. It soothes and makes us feel better straight away. I have learnt to grate a little fresh ginger too in my drink and that is better than most over the counter medicines.

Calabrian oranges

Maria and Antonio also have many orange and mandarin trees.
Oranges are rightly called the queen of citrus fruit because they are packed with vitamins, they are juicy and so beautiful. They literally decorate the garden in an explosion of bright orange and sunny colours! An adult orange tree can produce up to 500 oranges a year.. which I think is quite a lot!

Oranges are great in the kitchen. Think of the classic orange duck, orange risotto, jam and marmalade, candied orange or many cakes like my ricotta and orange tart  I seemed to be making over and over again!
Chocolate and orange is also a perfect combination!

orange tree

Here are a couple of tips from Maria:
-put the peel of an orange on top of your stove or heater and your house will smell divine!
-when doing roast chicken stuff the bird with a lemon, you will see how aromatic it will taste!

Oranges in Italy

Thank you Maria and Antonio. The food, fruit and vegetables you produce at the farm are the perfect example of what real food is and should be.

We mustn’t forget that.

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10 Responses to Italian Lemons and Oranges juicy and perfumed

  1. gloria

    Lovely post!
    Alida I love lemon and in my little yard we have oranges and are so good.
    Nice pics dear!!

    • Alida

      Oh lucky you Gloria! I wish I had lemons at home too!

  2. Dottie Sauchelli Balin

    Dear Alida,
    What a lovely post and so colorful. Boy I love lemons and oranges. Years ago my mom used to make fresh squeezed orange juice for us at breakfast. We also as kids made fresh lemonade many times, but I did not know that you can save it for over one year. A very interesting story about the citrus fruit. I wish we had fruit trees. Beautiful photos and love Antonio cutting the lemon. I noticed that the lemon has a thick rind to it, very different from our lemons here. There is something about fruit and veggies that are freshly grown. They taste so different and you can feel the passion that goes into the care of these foods. Love this..great job and your words are very true to your heart..Thank you for sharing..Keep warm and have a fun weekend.
    Dottie 🙂

    • Alida

      You are right the rind of Italian lemons is thicker that’s why it is ideal for zesting and making Limoncello. I really love their perfume, it is so unique!
      Hope you are having a good weekend Dottie x

  3. Elisabetta

    Alida, for me, citrus fruits reign supreme in the fruit world and each autumn I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the new orange season. I entirely agree with you, what fabulous dressings, sauces and marinades can be made with oranges and lemons. Then there’s pasta, risotti, meat and fish dishes too. I go crazy over orange or lemon cakes, gelati and desserts and as for dark chocolate with orange, now that’s a marriage made in heaven! Daily, I adore the simplest of salads, sliced orange with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil – although if you wish you can add other ingredients like olives. This week saw the annual arrival of the glorious Sicilian red orange (I bought bags of them at my local Morrison’s supermarket). Sinking your teeth into these red fleshed oranges will produce an explosion of flavour and sunshine – they are unique! And only last week I treated myself to some scent – Acqua Di Parma, Arancia Di Capri; it’s like being back amongst the lemon and orange groves in the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, mmmmmm ……
    Loved this post. Yep, I am a citrus nutter! Ciao, ciao!

    • Alida

      Oh I enjoyed reading about your love for citrus fruit. I love blood oranges from Sicily too, they have such a unique flavour and you are so right when you say they produce and explosion of flavour and sunshine. Also when you squeeze them the bright red colour is amazing! It makes you happy just by looking at it!

  4. la cucina di Molly

    Che bel post, che meraviglia il profumo di questi agrumi! Io il limone l’adoro, fa bene alla salute, è mia abitudine bere al mattino appena alzata un bicchiere di acqua calda e succo di limone, agisce sul fegato, mi fa stare meglio! Un abbraccio e felice domenica!

  5. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    I wish I had a citrus(orange or clementine) tree! Homegrown is definitely different and better than the store bought.
    Thanks for sharing, Alida.

  6. Louise

    I feel or fresh and citrusy after reading this post Alida:) If there is anything good about Winter, I think it’s the fresh supply of citrus we get from Florida and California. I have heard that citrus from italy is by far the best:)

    I actually have a small lemon plant growing in the house. One day I decided to plant some seeds from Marions lemons for her tea and would you believe they grew!!! I’ll have to share it on my blog one day, lol…

    I thought it was interesting about putting the lemon in the chicken when roasting it. I put an orange in roasted chicken but never tried a lemon. I’ll have to give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing, Alida…

    • Alida

      Well done for growing your own lemons! I have definitively never tried that. How brave!
      I have learned from my godmother to put a lemon in roasted chicken. She used to be a cook. I think an orange would be just as good! Oranges from Florida are so well known, they must be really delicious.

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