The best known citrus of the Sorrento Peninsula is the Sorrentino lemon called ‘Femminello’ and it differs from the lemons of the nearby Amalfi coast for the different cultivation methods and for different organoleptic properties (the Amalfi lemon also belongs to a different category, the ‘sfusato’).
It is grown on the Sorrento peninsula, in particular in the towns of Massa Lubrense, Sorrento, Sant’Agnello, Piano di Sorrento, Meta, Vico Equense and on the island of Capri.
The Sorrento femminiello, also known as "Massa lemon'' or "Sorrento Oval" (referring to the oval shape of the fruit), has medium-large dimensions and each lemon weighs no more than 85 grams, its pulp is yellow straw yellow with a highly acidic juice (which differentiates it from the Amalfitano lemon which is moderately acidic) and is rich in vitamin C.
The peel is of medium thickness, rough and is very fragrant due to the rich presence in essential oils, and is citrine yellow in color.
The PGI Sorrento lemon has particular production techniques, based on cultivation under "straw mats" (straw mats resting on wooden support poles to cover the foliage of the trees, in order to protect citrus fruits from adverse weather conditions and regulate ripening.).
On the market, the product is placed in the Lemon of Sorrento PGI type. It is sold in bulk or in rigid containers with variable capacities, and it is also possible to find on the market the processed product such as Sorrento IGP Lemon Jam and Sorrento IGP Lemon Liqueur.
In all of Campania, the largest lemon growing is Sorrento: in fact it represents 35% of the area invested and 40% of the product, or about 600 hectares and 130,000 quintals (out of the 327,000 of the entire region).
The Sorrento and Amalfi lemon groves are often referred to as “lemon gardens”.
The Sorrento lemon is very often used in the kitchen, to season typical dishes of the Sorrento peninsula: appetizers, first courses, side dishes and second courses, desserts and is also widely used to prepare limoncello, a liqueur made from lemons that is born right between the areas of Capri, Amalfi and Sorrento.
Lemons in the Sorrento area are certified by historical documents dating back to 1500 AD but ancestors of the current Sorrento oval date back to the Roman era: in fact, in the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, numerous paintings have been found depicting lemons very similar to those of today. Sorrento on the tables of the ancient Romans. Only in 1600 we have the certainty of the cultivation of these fruits in this oval shape as shown by the acts of the Jesuit fathers of the area. There is still one of the first cultivated fields, called "Il Gesus" by the local Jesuit fathers, which is located in the Municipality of Massa Lubrense: according to many historians this is the first fund of the Sorrento peninsula where the cultivation of lemon was introduced and for this reason therefore that the lemon is sometimes called sorrentino and other times massese.