It’s all in the zest! What could be better than great olive oil and a squeeze of lemon?
Originally thought to be from Burma, the Mediterranean is without doubt the spiritual home of the lemon tree.
Here in Liguria the lemon has been entwined with the region’s history, culture and landscape since it was cultivated commercially in Genoa in the 15th century.
Surely nothing speaks more of Mediterranean food than olives and their golden oil, garlic, fresh green herbs and lemons.
Thinking about the benefits of the Mediterranean way of eating, lemons are certainly up there at the top of the list alongside E V olive oil for being packed full of antioxidant and anti-cancer properties plus an impressive list of essential nutrients. Lemons are also respected for their antibiotic properties. Scientists believe that it is the zest that holds all of the health giving properties so try and buy unwaxed lemons and always cook with the zest.
Lemons are used year round in the Mediterranean kitchen and are seen as an essential alongside E V olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Is the consumption of lemons another reason why the Mediteranean way of eating is proven to be so health giving? I believe it is.
Olive Oil and lemons - Imperia Olive Oil Festival 2016
Just over the border from our olive farm into France is the historic town of Menton the ‘Pearl of France.’
Started in 1934 the Menton Lemon Festival uses over 145 tonnes of citrus fruit to create spectacular floats and sculptures. I visit ever year to see these extraordinary pieces of art.
The Fête du Citron, Menton where lemons are known as the caviar of Menton!
One of my all-time favourite reads - if you love Italy, gardening, cooking and history don’t miss this glorious book...
The ‘Queen’ cookery book is a compilation of recipes published in the cookery columns of the ‘Queen’ magazine between 1895 and 1902. The preface assures the reader that all the recipes are well within the capacity of the ‘good plain cook’.
It suggests ‘Lemons to Keep’ - ‘These may be kept by the same recipe as is recommended for walnuts, i.e. in sand. Put a layer of very dry sea sand at the bottom of a jar and on this a layer of lemons, then more sand and more lemons till the jar is full, but be careful that the lemons never touch each other in any of the layers’. Maybe it was the salt in the sand that helped preserve the lemons?
It continues ‘ Abroad they are preserved in crocks full of cold water, which is changed weekly, care being taken to keep them well immersed’
My Great Grandmother Martha’s ‘Queen’ Cookery Book 1902
Nudo & Bestagno Farm Owner