Juicy organic lemons from Sicily

Lemons originated from Asia, although Ancient Rome knew about wild lemons. Sicily was one of the first areas in Europe in which they were cultivated. The Mediterranean climate and even today the fertile ash of the volcano in Mount Etna provide ideal conditions for growth. The Sicilians are past masters at growing lemons – the fruit is grown by applying traditional methods and picked when it is ripe and juicy. The best-known lemons grow on the east coast in the region around Syracuse. The regional variety "Femminello Siracusano" is even protected geographically. These lemons are distinguished by their high juice content and by having a thin peel. This means that they are not only eminently suitable for use when cooking, but they are also valued highly by manufacturers of cosmetics.

When our trees in Central Europe cast off their leaves in autumn, the main season for picking lemons is just beginning on Sicily. Interestingly, lemon trees are generally able to bear fruit and blossom at the same time, this means that lemons can be picked all year round. Every blossom or harvest has its own name under which it is marketed: Primofiore (from October to March), Bianchetto (from April to June) and Verdello (from July to September).

This time we would like to present two of our lemon suppliers in Sicily to you:

Failla-Floridia Agrumi
Established in 2002
Certified: BAC
Supplier to BioTropic since 2008

The sea is only about 5 km away. The Azienda Failla-Floridia covers a total of 85 hectares and is bordered by a chain of mountains. As in the heavenly gardens of the hesperides, lemons, oranges and grapefruit grow in large quantities. The area under cultivation is divided up into 10 production areas -- this makes it easier to manage. When Luigi Fiumara and his wife Concetta Failla had a choice as to what they would like to inherit, they decided that they would like to have the lemon plantation. They attempted to adopt a sensible holistic approach, and they came up with this between their lemon trees. The successfully running business of today is the result of a great deal of hard work and investment. In their day job they work as committed doctors. That is why everybody has to lend a hand. While an agricultural technician is mainly responsible for production, Luigi's nephew looks after the packing operation and marketing. After a hard day in the clinic, Luigi enjoys the time he is able to spend between the lemon trees. Moreover, the other part of the inheritance has been turned into a spa and a golf course. "It fits in with the countryside quite well too", adds Luigi with a wink.

Az. Agricola Chiara Lo Bianco
Established in 1979
Certified: Bio Agricert
Supplier to BioTropic since 1998

Today, Chiara Lo Bianco's business is a multifaceted operation which has specialised in the cultivation of organically-grown fruit and vegetables: lemons, melons, endives, carrots, fennel, red peppers, onions and courgettes. The organic farm was preceded by a lemon garden that her grandmother had. Chiara Lo Bianco's father Giuseppe expanded it and built up a commercial operation. Not long afterwards he converted the business by adopting organic principles for cultivation. He did not want to spend money on chemical pesticides which then damaged his land. That was more than 20 years ago -- this meant that Giuseppe was a real organic trail-blazer in the area surrounding Syracuse. His daughter Chiara wanted to follow in his footsteps and develop his projects one stage further. She studied agricultural science and while studying for her doctorate abroad, she acquired a great deal of technical agricultural experience, which she has been able to apply today with success on her own farm. How would she describe her farm? To do so she uses a saying her father used to say, "Our greatest success after 20 years is to be able to see butterflies on our land in the daytime and glow-worms at night."

if you see a green lemon or a yellow and green lemon in a shop, don't worry, go ahead and buy it. A lemon is ripe when the peel is shiny and the sugar / acidity ratio is balanced. The colour is not an indicator of ripeness. Cool nights are needed to make the lemon peel turn yellow. This explains why there aren't any bright yellow organic lemons in the summer. The juiciness of the lemon does not depend on the colour of its peel.

Copyright of images: Visnja Malesic and Ramona Eykeln -- BioTropic
Picture of 'Chiara Lo Bianco': Marc Doradzillo -- Alnatura

Tags: Chiara Lo Bianco (GB), Floridia Agrumi (GB), Italy (GB), Lemons (GB)

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