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Citron de Menton

Menton Lemons
Menton Lemons

Join us in discovering the true story of this rare fruit and the farmers who cultivate it today.

Expelled from the Garden of Eden, Eve drops the apple and picks a ripe lemon from a tree. Adam, fearing more condemnation, implores her to ditch the lemon. She agrees, but only in a place that appeals to her! Eve chooses the coastal town of Menton, France…so the legend goes…

The beautiful coastal town of Menton
The beautiful coastal town of Menton on the French Riviera

Menton is a beautiful coastal town on the French Riviera near the Italian border. Protected by the Mediterranean Sea and The Alps and blessed with a microclimate (300 days of sunshine), it provided the perfect environment for the lemon that arrived from Spain in the 15th century. By the 1800s, there were 80,000 lemon trees cultivated in Menton. The farmers and town grew and flourished with the delicious fruit.

Millions of lemons were shipped from France to Europe, Russia, and the United States. Unfortunately, by the 19th century, circumstances changed. Laws that restricted competition from other areas were lifted. Increased tourism spurred hotels and villas that replaced citrus terraces, affecting cultivation. Then, a rare freeze in 1956 killed off the remaining fruit trees. 

Laurent Gannac, a prominent farmer in Menton
Laurent Gannac, a prominent farmer in Menton

In 1980, the Menton lemon began a significant revival in agriculture and culinary fields. Cultivators in Menton follow the traditional farming method on steep terraces, harvesting each lemon by hand. It is a physical labor of love. The fruit is unwaxed and starts as a light yellow, maturing to a golden hue. Praised for its heady fragrance, sweet taste, rich rind, and high essential oil content, it is a favorite of accomplished chefs worldwide. Since 2015, the Menton lemon has enjoyed a PGI (protected geographical indication),an official European recognition of its properties and quality. 

“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. We think it is fair to say that lemons gave Menton life.

À bientôt

Ryan's French Riviera Lemon Tart

Brenda and Tina 

PS  Our families and guests shared a lively New Year's Day Brunch this year. Everyone agreed that the French Riviera Lemon Tart (recipe by Dorie Greenspan, Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple) made by Tina's daughter, Ryan, was the best they ever tasted!  In order to feed our crowd Ryan used a 10" tart pan and increased the recipe by 1.5x.

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