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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 can smell the difference as you’re 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 citrus, not sugary or overly acidic.

Try your hand at traditional Italian desserts that call for candied fruit, 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, focaccia, granola, or cookies. Rinse the sugar from the outside of the fruit peels and they can be used in savory dishes as well, adding 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 which makes the fruit gummy and sulfites that change the flavor, Caffè Sicilia uses no preservatives and no glucose. The fruit is simply steamed in pastry ovens, cooled immediately, and then dipped in sugar. The key to the process is patience; over 3-4 weeks, the lemon peels absorb the sugar, and the fruit is pasteurized and vacuum-packed.

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