Interdonato di Messina: Queen Elizabeth’s favorite lemon is Sicilian

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The Interdonato lemon of Messina is Queen Elizabeth’s favourite for her tea breaks at 5 pm. Buckingham Palace supplies itself with the fruits of this area that have grown on the Ionian terraces since the postwar period, but the link with the English dates back to the beginning of the last century. The reasons for this success.

At Buckingham Palace, understandably, they have a good mouth and Queen Elizabeth, when she can, turns to Italy to set her table. So it was, in 2018, for the royal wedding between Harry and Meghan, when for the ceremony London brought the famous sugared almonds from Sulmona and lemons from the Amalfi Coast to the palace to compose the wedding cake. A relationship, the one with the Belpaese, which is confirmed with the typical yellow citrus fruit, this time, however, coming from Sicily: the Interdonato IGP lemon characteristic of the Ionian coast of Messina (it is rich in terracing), in fact, seems to be the “chosen” for the tea time of the British sovereign.

Thanks to its organoleptic properties, which enrich and flavour the tea, the Interdonato lemon (which takes its name from the one who made the graft in the late 1800s) is among the most used by the Queen for the 5 pm break. consolidated the one between the characteristic Sicilian lemon and Buckingham Palace, which has its roots in history. The Sovereign, in fact, grew up tasting Sicilian citrus in the rooms of the royal residence. It seems, in fact, that already in the post-war period the British ruling family made this product arrive from the Messina coast, and over time the tradition has gradually consolidated.

Interdonato lemon: love at first taste

More generally, the British began to appreciate this variety of lemon since the early twentieth century, when many of them, wealthy tourists visiting Sicily, travelling in the Messina area, had the opportunity to taste the Interdonato. They were impressed by its quality and low acidity, which made it a perfect match with fish dishes, oysters and tea. And who knows if it was not a wealthy British tourist who suggested to someone at the English Royal Palace to stock up on this peculiar and characteristic variety.

But what makes this lemon so special, to the point that it has become a must for many English holidaymakers first and for Queen Elizabeth later? It is a characteristic product, obtained by grafting between a cedar and a native lemon from the Messina area on a bitter orange rootstock. With a thinner peel than the other versions and rich in essential oils that enhance the flavour of the tea. All this, combined with the low acidity and the greater sweetness of the juice, convinced the English royals to always stock up on the same lemon variant. Precisely because of these unprecedented peculiarities, the price settles on a medium / high range. It also seems that Prince Charles is also crazy about this all-Sicilian product.

The Interdonato lemon consortium has 16 members and annually produces around five million kilos, some of which ends up on the royal tea plates of Buckingham Palace.


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