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Santa Teresa Lemons
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Santa Teresa lemons are large, with a round, elongated shape. They are rounded with at the stem end and taper to a point, displaying the characteristic, prominent mammilla. The medium thick rinds are bright yellow and have deep oil glands that release a distinctly intense citrus aroma. The pale-yellow flesh is very juicy and contains few seeds. Santa Teresa lemons have a rich lemon flavor that is high in acidity with a slight sweetness.
Santa Teresa lemons are available for a short time in the late winter months.
Santa Teresa lemons are an Italian variety of Citrus limon. According to some, they offer the most classic lemon flavor of all the varieties, yet one that is different from more modern, American-developed varieties. Santa Teresa lemons are a disease-resistant hybrid of the femminello ovale lemon. They are sometimes referred to as Femminello Santa Teresa lemons, Sfusato lemons or Sorrento lemons.
Santa Teresa lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate. They are a source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Santa Teresa lemons provide excellent antioxidant benefits with the combination of vitamin C and the compound limonin.
The zest, rind and juice of the Santa Teresa lemons are used for both raw and cooked applications. In Italy, the zest is traditionally paired with anchovies or swordfish and the juice is often used as a substitute for vinegar in dressings and marinades. The fragrant peel is candied in strips or chunks and sprinkled with sugar. The zest can be added to soups, sauces, fish, and poultry dishes, and is baked into cakes, muffins and scones. The juice can be used for beverages and frozen desserts. Santa Teresa lemons store well and can be kept at room temperature for up to two weeks. Refrigerate them for up to a month.
Santa Teresa lemons are used in Italy for the preparation of limoncello. They are harvested when the fruits are just turning from green to yellow. The aromatic, oil-rich rinds are separated from the pulp and soaked in alcohol for a length of time. It is often served as an aperitif following a meal, to aid in digestion. The practice of making limoncello dates to ancient Italy, though there is debate on exactly where and who first began making it. Theories on the origin of the liqueur include friars at monasteries, fishermen hoping to ward off cold and scurvy, and a few noble families, who welcomed visitors with glasses of limoncello.
Santa Teresa lemons are native to the Sorrento Peninsula of Italy, along the Amalfi coast on the Mediterranean. The original tree was discovered sometime before 1955, when it was brought to the United States. It was found unscathed in an orchard of femminello ovale lemon trees that had been ravaged by the mal secco citrus disease. Its resistance made it popular in areas of Italy where other citrus trees were affected by the disease. During the 1960s, hundreds of Santa Teresa lemon trees were planted in southern Italy. The flavor and quality of Santa Teresa lemons are often attributed to the warm, year-round temperatures, volcanic soil and centuries-old cultivation methods of the growers in Italy. Italian varieties are not commercially available in America and are limited to specialty growers and citrus aficionados. Santa Teresa lemons can be found growing in Italy, Europe, Turkey, and northern Argentina. They may also be spotted at farmer’s markets in Southern California and Arizona.