Surely you already know the Sorrento limoncello, you will have happened to drink it and to read it on the tourist and gastronomic guides.
In fact it is perhaps the best known product of the Sorrento Peninsula but not the only one worthy of note.
Sorrento is a land of citrus fruits, cultivated according to ancient patterns that guarantee its uniqueness and even Sorrentine oranges deserve attention and fame.
Characteristics of the Sorrento oranges
The Sorrento orange is the result of the fusion of two varieties of orange trees: “Biondo Sorrentino” and “Biondo Equense“.
These are very tall plants (even up to 7 meters) which therefore make maximum use of the sun’s heat and can withstand winds.
Their fruits have a light orange color, almost a golden yellow, and as said they ripen more slowly due to the technique of protective cages and therefore can be harvested almost all year round.
It is a citrus fruit with a thick skin and a very juicy and slightly sour flesh.
History of Sorrento oranges cultivation
There is a precise date in which history places a real beginning of the cultivation of oranges for market purposes.
It is the 14th century, and it is from this moment on that Campania first and then the rest of southern Italy understand the potential of these orange and juicy fruits.
The Greeks and Romans knew oranges but they consumed them as they found them on trees.
It was only in the Middle Ages that it was thought to exploit this tendency of the territory transforming it into a real food industry.
The techniques developed then have remained until the present day, although helped a little by technology.
Even now, in fact, the orange plant is protected by “cages” of chestnut wood, covered with nets or woven straw mats, so as to let sun and rain pass in moderate quantities but not wind damage.
In this way the Sorrento oranges ripen calmly, later than the others, and this helps the sweet taste of their juice, which makes them special in Italy.
How to use the Sorrento oranges
The main use of Sorrento oranges is the preparation of jams.
The particular sweetness of this citrus makes it suitable for desserts and in addition to preserves it is used for cakes, biscuits, candied peel and even for the preparation of punch!
To obtain this drink in its two most well-known versions, the Sorrento orange juice with cinnamon and sugar is boiled for a long time and then, once filtered, it is served as an afternoon herbal tea in the same way as English tea.
But the punch also has an alcoholic version, and is obtained by adding rum to the boiling of orange juice.
In that case it should be served on special nights, such as New Year’s Day or birthdays.
But the Sorrento orange is so good that you can try it even so, simple, squeezed in a glass and with a touch of sugar.
It is no coincidence that it is served in the many bars scattered throughout the Sorrentine Peninsula during the summer and, with a few ice cubes inside, it becomes an excellent instant thirst quencher.