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Monachello lemons are a large variety with a thick, bright yellow rind and a dimpled surface. The fruit is elliptical and slightly elongated with an exaggerated protuberance at one end. They have less pulp due to a thicker rind, with around 10 segments each. Monachello lemons have a low acid content and offer a balanced flavor that is both tart and sweet. The juicy lemons have few seeds.
Monachello lemons are available in the late winter through the summer months.
Monachello lemons are one of the most widespread varieties of Citrus limon grown in Italy. Monachello lemons, also called Moscatello, are believed to be lemon-citron hybrids. These Italian lemons are highly resistant to a disease common in citrus, called mal secco, so they are most often planted in areas of Italy where the disease is particularly rampant.
Monachello lemons are high in vitamin C and folate, they also contain minerals like potassium, copper, magnesium and phosphorus.
Monachello lemons are most often used in fresh applications. The most common use for Monachello lemons is for juice. Add fresh squeezed juice to marinades for meats, poultry, or fish. Fresh Monachello lemon juice can be fermented into lemonchello, a traditional Italian liquor. Use the juice for desserts, dressings or for beverages. Monachello lemons will keep at room temperature for up to a week, refrigerate for extended storage.
Monachello lemons are a difficult variety to preserve. For this reason, they are grown using what is called the “verdelli” process. This is a process by which water is withheld from the plant during the summer for up to 2 months, creating a moisture deficit in the tree. Once the tree has wilted to a certain point, it is given a mass amount of water and nitrogen fertilizer to affect a second blooming in the fall, resulting in an early summer crop the next year. These are sold as 'light green summer lemons' at the markets in Italy. California began using this same technique for lemons in the early 1980s.
Monachello lemons are native to Sicily, Italy and are still grown in the area. Lemons first came to Sicily before 1000 AD and were brought to the Mediterranean region by the Arabs. Sicily was the point of origin for most lemon exports before the mid-1800s, when the Florida and California citrus orchards began exporting tons of lemons worldwide.