A small and very fragrant citrus: the Calabrian lime

12.03.2022

Limon Calaber fructu minima rotundo angustioribus et brevioribus foliis”: this is how in 1726 Paolo Bartolomeo Clarici identified the Calabrian round lemon by describing its characteristics.

Lime (Citrus limetta) is a citrus fruit characterized by a very delicate scent and a yellow-green skin, with a sweetish or slightly acidic and not very savory pulp, and is another of the Protected (Traditional) Agri-food Products of Calabria (PAT).

The variety grown in the upper Ionian coast of Cosenza is Citrus limetta umbilicata hispanica or Spanish limo.

Calabrian Limetta

The fruit stands out for being small and round, with an umbo, almost completely surrounded by a deep groove.

Dialectally called piretta, it has been cultivated for centuries in the Piana di Sibari, where it has found an ideal climate for its adaptation.

It is also known by the name of Calabrian limoncello or Calabrian lime, used a lot in the preparation of liqueurs and cocktails.

It has an intense aroma, rich in essential oils, with a fine peel; details that give it excellent organoleptic qualities and that make it one of the products of excellence of its kind. According to some, it is a hybrid between cedar and another citrus fruit that is not better defined.

Limetta cocktails

The origin and history of Citrus limetta or lima dulcis (as Giovanni Battista Ferrari defined it at the end of 1500, in his work “Hesperides”), are very fragmentary and little is known about its past.

It almost certainly spread from India (where different varieties of sweet limes are still grown today, called in Hindi musambi or mosambi, with which sweet and refreshing juices are made) to Asia Minor, Egypt and other countries of the Mediterranean basin, in which it has been present for many centuries.

It forms small trees or large erect, branched and thorny bushes, its flowers are white and fragrant, single or in inflorescence, and are produced from spring to autumn.

Among the sweet citrus fruits it is the least known, but it is sought after by connoisseurs who appreciate both the beauty and the goodness and taste of this fruit. As with most citrus fruits, sweet limes are rich in vitamin C and potassium, and are used to fight the flu and colds.

Fresh Limetta slices fall into water

Their juice is rich in substances that stimulate the digestive system by helping the stomach to regulate gastric juices, and this is why in Calabria, with its rinds, an excellent piretta liqueur is made for the end of a meal.

This juice with a pinch of salt is also useful against constipation and nausea.

It also increases appetite, purifies the blood, is highly thirst-quenching and cools the body.

In India, it is one of the most consumed among citrus juices, and in oriental cuisine it is also used to marinate meat (as it enhances its flavor without contrasting it with the acidity that other citrus fruits have) and to dress salads.Finally, it is used in the food industry for the production of soft drinks, jams and sorbets.

More Calabrian Limetta

This citrus fruit is particularly cultivated to obtain the essential oil from its peel.

The essence, very fragrant and similar to that of lemon but more delicate, is appreciated by the perfume industry to create unusual perfumes, detergents and refined deodorants.

Calabrian limetta citrus: another small but great fruit made in Calabria, to discover and taste!

The Treasure of Pink Garlic

18.10.2021

Nicastro pink garlic is a historical product of the Lamezia Terme area, in the province of Catanzaro. Of medium size, it has a rounded shape, white in color with pink veins.

The excellence of “Nicastro pink” garlic is characterized by certain morphological and organoleptic characteristics, such as the size, the pink color inside, the intense aroma, the slightly bitter taste that lasts unchanged for several months.

The production of Nicastro pink garlic begins with the care of the seedbeds which, fertilized with organic fertilizer, will go into production in the autumn.

Warm colors

The cloves produced in the previous year are planted in the ground where they live until the month of May; afterwards the plants are uprooted and left to dwell for a month in an area of penumbra. This garlic also beats the Spanish one for naturalness, color, flavor, smell.

The “Rosa di Nicastro” garlic is a typical commercial reference to “Made in Italy” or rather to “Made in Calabria”. It is the affirmation of the Mediterranean diet, which is part of the UNESCO heritage of intangible assets. This is due to the fact that production of Nicastro pink garlic begins with the care of the seedbeds which, after being fertilized, go into production in autumn. The garlic is harvested the next June. Packaged in braids, it is left to dry. Although it exhibits an intense taste and aroma, which persists for up to a year after harvest, it remains delicate at the same time, a characteristic that makes it particularly popular in the area.

TERRITORY AND HISTORY

Nicastro is one of the municipal districts of Lamezia Terme, in the province of Catanzaro, of which it represents the most populous district. Until 1968 it was an autonomous municipality. Its history begins between the 9th and 10th centuries and, since then, numerous civil and, above all, religious buildings have arisen on its territory, many of which have been rebuilt following the disastrous earthquake of 1638.

A natural shape

The city of Nicastro has always been known for the fertility of its lands, especially for the production of exquisite vegetables from all over the province. Already in the Bourbon period, on the occasion of the St. Peter and Paul Fair, such richness was exhibited and the pink garlic was the protagonist among the banquets. So much so that in 1826 the King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinando Secondo, promulgated a decree to allow the Fair to be extended from three to five days.

Despite the difficult periods that garlic production has encountered over the years, today it is still possible to go to the historic Fair of Apostles, held every year at the end of June, and buy it from the few farmers who still cultivate it, since more than hundred years.

White and pink shades

NAME AND FEATURES

Considered a rare product, the Nicastro pink garlic deserved the attention of the Slow Food Foundation which promotes it and contributes to its protection through the Ark of Taste project. It was assured protection due to the delicious Calabrian bulb, rounded and of medium size. Further, despite the intense taste and flavor, which lasts up to one year after harvest, it is also still pleasantly delicate; and it is precisely for this reason that it is particularly appreciated in the area.

IN THE KITCHEN (a recipe)

The intense taste and aroma of this garlic makes it suitable for flavoring many different recipes. Its delicacy, in fact, makes it discreet and never overwhelming, enhancing all the flavors present in the dish.

Good, tasty, delicious

Find herein a typical recipe: “Spaghetti with red garlic, oil and chilli“.

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of spaghetti,
  • 5 cloves of garlic,
  • 2 red chillies,
  • extra virgin olive oil,
  • salt.

Preparation:

Boil water in a pot, in the meantime heat some oil in a pan with the chopped chilli pepper, add the clean and chopped garlic cloves and brown them, making sure they do not darken too much. Drain the pasta al dente, fry it in oil and serve it hot on the table.

Note well:

Garlic in cooking is a precious ingredient, but sometimes its use can cause unpleasant (and “odorous”) “side effects” on the hands. Cook it without touching the wedges with your hands, simply using a very handy garlic press.