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Marrakech Limonetta Lemons
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|Mud Creek Ranch|
The Marrakech lemon is distinctive in shape— a rounded or flattened base on one end, and a depression with a noticeable apex in the middle on the other. The rind is fairly thin and bumpy, and yellow-orange. The flesh is a pale yellow color, juicy, and sour, and tastes acidic rather than sweet.
Marrakech limonettas are available year-round.
Marrakech lemons are not true lemons, but instead are a type of Citrus limetta Risso, or limetta. They have a large number and somewhat confusing variety of common names, including citron beldi, limonette de Marrakech, Moroccan limetta, Moroccan limonetta, sweet lemon, and sweet lime. They are also called bergamots in France, but are not the same as true bergamots in English. True bergamots are, however, related, since they are a cross of limetta and sour orange.
Limettas are high in Vitamin C, and also contain some calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. They are low in other vitamins and minerals as well as calories. Citrus in general has a variety of health benefits. The Vitamin C in limettas and other citrus aids in the body's absorption of calcium, while antioxidants promote a healthy vascular system and immune system.
Similar to other lemons, Marrakech lemons can be used whenever a bittering agent is desired for flavoring. Marrakech lemons are specifically used to make authentic Moroccan preserved lemons. They can also be made into a marmalade that is more bitter and floral than typical marmalade made with oranges or other citrus. The best specimens are brightly colored and unblemished. In addition, Marrakech lemons that seem heavy have more juice. They should last around two weeks at room temperature, and six weeks in the refrigerator.
In Morocco, Marrakech lemons are know as citron beldi or l'hamd beldi, which means "traditional lemon" in Morocco. In Moroccan cuisine, they are commonly used to make lemon preserves, called l'hamd marakad ("sleeping lemons") or mssivar ("guided lemons"). Preserved lemons are then used in many dishes such as tagines and salads.
Limetta varieties are part of many cuisines around the world. Marrakech lemons are commonly found in Moroccan cooking, but other limettas are part of Iranian, Indian, Nicaraguan, Tunisian, and South African cuisines.