What is a Cedro? + 9 Ways We Use it in Italy

Did you wander through the fruit and vegetable mercato in Italy and do a double-take when you saw a humongous lemon?

That wasn’t a lemon you saw – it’s called a cedro.

What is a cedro, you ask?

What is a Cedro?

A common lemon is dwarfed in size by the cedro.
Lemon and cedro

A cedro (pronounced CHEH-droh) is a citrus fruit, known in English as a citron

A cedro looks like a large (2-3 times larger!) lemon from the outside, with a bumpier surface.  Inside it’s much different – mostly white pith. 

The Diamante cedro is the most common type of citron (there are 8) that you’ll see in Italy.

You’ll see them in grocery stores throughout the year, and if you’re in Sorrento or on the Amalfi Coast, you’re sure to run into the huge fruit at fruit stands or in supermarkets.

Fun Fact:  Cedri are one of the four original citrus fruits.  The others are the mandarin orange, pomelo, and papeda. 

Where are Cedri Grown?

Cedri for sale at a grocery store in Italy.

Most of Italy’s cedri (plural for cedro) are grown in Sicily or in Calabria.  Calabria even has an area called the Riviera dei Cedri, or the Cedro Riviera!

Good To Know:  If you’re in Calabria, stop by the Museo del Cedro (Citron Museum).

You can get cedri here year-round, but they’re easier to find in the fall and winter.  They’re typically found at the supermarket and at fruit stands and markets.

9 Ways To Use a Cedro

You may be wondering how you eat a cedro.  It looks a bit like a lemon, a bit like an orange.  In fact, it’s sour like a lemon, but slightly less so. 

Fun Fact:  Some ‘descendants’ of cedri include limes, lemons, bitter oranges, and Buddha’s hands.

There are many ways to use cedri – here are nine ways we use the fruit in Italy:

Sliced Cedro Sprinkled with Sugar

Thinly sliced cedro sprinkled with sugar on a plate in the grass in Italy.

This is probably the easiest way to prepare a cedro (and the way we usually use it).  If you’re traveling in Italy, you can pick one up at the market and prepare it quickly. 

Wash the cedro gently and scrub off any dirt.  Sliced the cedro into fine discs, spread them onto a plate, and sprinkle with sugar. 

Eat the entire slice – pith, peel, and pulp! 

This makes a great after dinner treat or you can have it as an afternoon snack (kids will love it).

Candied Cedro Peel

This takes a little bit more effort, but it’s a popular way to use cedro here.  It’s a typical addition to panettone, panforte or cannoli.  It’s prepared in the same way you candy an orange peel.

Cedrata Soda

Tassoni brand cedrata soda on the grocery store shelf in Italy.

In the soda aisle, you’ll find limonata, aranciata, and cedrata alongside mainstream sodas like Coca-Cola and Sprite.

Cedrata soda makes an excellent non-alcoholic aperitivo drink for kids or adults.  Just pour it in a glass with ice, add a lemon garnish and if you really want to kick it up a notch, add a leaf of basil or mint.

Cedro Salad

Bowl of cedro salad sprinkled with sliced mint leaves and sugar.

This is a particular salad – my kids call it lemonade salad.  It’s similar to sliced cedri sprinked with sugar, but in this recipe the cedro is peeled, sliced into bite-size pieces, coated in sugar, and sprinkled with mint.  You can serve it with panna gelato for dessert. 

You can also slice the pith (only) for a salad and dress it with a traditional balsamic vinegarette.

Aromi Dolci

You may add vanilla or almond extract to your baked desserts.  Here in Italy, we also have cedro extract that you can be added to cakes, cookies, or pastries. 

Cedro Marmalade

You can make a cedro marmalade like you would an orange marmalade, or just using the pulp and the peel (but not the pith).  Or, use your cedro in a mixed citrus marmalade.  

Cedro marmalade (or marmellata) is often served with bread or a cheese platter.

Cedro Risotto

Substitute lemon with a cedro in a risotto recipe.  It tastes delicious with scamorza cheese or with fennel and celery.

Cedro Syrup

The peel of the cedro is used to make a syrup.  You can see the peeled cedro in a bowl with mint in the background.

Use the fragrant peel and the pulp to make a cedro syrup to drizzle on cakes or pancakes.  Or, add it to sparkling water or cocktails for a refreshing drink. 

Cedro Perfumes

If you get your hands on a cedro, you’ll notice it has a beautiful lemony scent.  It’s been bottled, and companies like Acqua di Parma sell it to Italians and visitors (Cedro di Taormina).

I hope you have a chance to try a cedro in one of these forms!

FAQ

A cedro being held in the hand.

What is cedro fruit? 
A cedro is a citrus fruit that looks like a very large, bumpy lemon.  It’s got a milder taste than a lemon, and inside it has a large layer of pith.

How big is a citron?
A citron is usually around 4-6 inches long.

What can you do with citrons?
Citrons can be candied, made into syrup or soda, cooked in risotto, and more.  The easiest way to eat them is one of the most delicious – thinly sliced, and sprinkled with sugar!