With their artisanal candied lemon peels, Caffè Sicilia has succeeded in preserving a tiny slice of Sicily’s world-famous lemons, the Femminello di Siracusa variety. One look and you can see that these are miles away from industrial candied fruit: no amorphous sugary lumps here, just whole sections of real lemon peel. Open the bag and you’ll be greeted with the bright, sweet-tart scent of lemon, rich with essential oils. But it’s the taste and texture that steal the show; Corrado’s lemon peels are soft, not gummy, but with a dense, almost al dente finish. Their delicate lemon flavor strikes a gentle balance between sweet and tart, and the taste that remains in the mouth is fresh, not sugary or overly acidic. Its pairings range from fiordilatte ice cream to shellfish or ravioli filling. With their gentle yet long-lasting taste, the versatility of candied lemons is limitless.
Try your hand at traditional Italian desserts that call for candied fruits, including panettone, pandolce, cannoli, cassata cake, gelato, and Neapolitan pastries. But you don’t have to be a professional pastry chef to add the rich flavor of Sicilian lemon to homemade bread, granola, or cookies. Just rinse the peels under running water, pat them dry and be ready to upgrade your savory dishes. Lemon peels add a unique touch to salads, risotto, ravioli filling, pasta sauce, fish, or meat.
Producer Corrado Assenza’s goal is to prolong the life of fresh Sicilian citrus without the use of additives, using only the amount of sugar necessary for preservation. To produce his artisanal candied lemon peels, Corrado uses the same fruit that he uses for his marmalade, collaborating with local farmers who grow native Sicilian lemons. Whereas industrial production uses glucose syrup and sulfites, Caffè Sicilia uses none. The fruit is simply steamed in pastry ovens, immediately cooled, and finally dipped in sugar. The key to this process is patience; over 3-4 weeks, the lemon peels will slowly absorb the sugar, and then the rinds will be pasteurized and vacuum-packed. Industrial producers cut down this process to just half a day!
Before using these canditi, rinse them quickly under cold running water, then pat them dry. Rinse the canditi you need to use and store the rest in a glass jar in the fridge; they’ll keep for a long time.