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Welcome to Gardens to Tables Travel Articles Ventura Loves Lemons (A Lot!)
Ventura Loves Lemons (A Lot!) Print E-mail
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Written by Abbie Mood   

Limoncello LemonsWith its Mediterranean climate, it’s no surprise that the area in and around Ventura, California, makes it easy to grow a variety of fruits. One of the more popular ones is the lemon. Whether it’s the local Ventura Limoncello in a Lemon Drop  at the Watermark or Limoneira lemons used in one of the lemon cake desserts at the Sidecar, lemons can be found just about everywhere. On a recent trip to Ventura, sponsored by the Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau, I toured Ventura Limoncello and Limoneira, two local companies that are deep into the lemon business.

As soon as you walk into the offices of Ventura Limoncello, you are met with the fresh smell of lemons. James Carling and his wife, Manuela, run the entire operation with just the help of Manuela’s parents and (occasionally) their son. They scrub and peel the locally sourced lemons by hand, then soak them in 190-proof grain alcohol (pictured above), filter the liquid in a stainless steel tank, blend with a sugar and water mixture, then measure out by hand. The liquid is then sent for analysis to be sure they maintain the alcohol content stated on the label. The leftover lemon fruit is sent back to the grower to use as mulch for the nearby blueberry fields. Ventura Limoncello offers the Limoncello Originale, Limoncello Crema, and seasonally, a delicious Blood Orange flavor.

The Limoneira Company, founded back in 1893, has grown into the largest lemon provider in the United States. In fact, citrus giant Sunkist was born from the Limoneira Company. More of a small community than just a company (some of the workers live in houses on the property), there is a focus on worker relations. There is also a focus on sustainability, which includes composting, 6,400 solar panels across 5 acres, and a waste removal plan in place with Agromin, a green waste facility.

Limneira picnic tableLimoneira Company offers a number of opportunities for families and educators to learn more about the growing of lemons -- including touring the plant (a one-hour tour is $20 for adults, and $5 for children) or their Grow Your Own Garden Kit. There are also several international regulation size bocce ball courts and picnic tables open to the public (right).

If you decide to head over for a picnic and game of bocce, don’t forget your lemonade! Here’s a delicious recipe courtesy of Chef Jason Collis of Jonathan’s at Peirano’s.

12 Limoneira lemons (juice only)
4 quarts of water
8 cups of raw sugar
12 springs of lavender
*For an “adult” version, mix chilled Ventura Limoncello or Ventura Limoncello Crema into the chilled lemonade

Pour water into a medium sized pot, add your lavender springs, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the sprigs to steep in the liquid. When white foam floats on top of the water, skim it off with a spoon. Strain the lavender water through a colander, and put the liquid back into the pot. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice and cool rapidly. Chill the lemonade and serve with or without the Limoncello.

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