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Lemons

Contributed by: Jennifer Wickes

Geography

The lemon originanted from South-East Asia, possibly India or Malaysia. Now, they are grown in tropical and temperate locations around the world, with California being the USA's major producer.

Season

Lemons are available throughout the year.

How to Select

Lemons are yellow, oval citrus fruits. They are juicy and acidic. They can be as small as an egg, and as large as a grapefruit. They can have thin or thick skins. Choose brightly colored fruit, with a smooth skin and no sign of greenness. They should be firm, plump and heavy for its size.

Storage Seal in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

Nutritional Qualities

Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C, but loses much of this shortly after being squeezed. Sailors used to travel with lemons to help prevent scurvy.

Trivia

In the past, lemons were used as a remedy for epilepsy, it was also used as toothpaste, invisible ink and as a bleaching agent.

They were used to help make lips red, and to prevent wrinkles.

In Pagan religions, lemons symbolize longevity, purification, love and friendship.

The essential oil of lemons are know to have anti-infectious, antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. Hence, this is the reason a lot of cleaning products are lemon-scented.

The scent of lemons are noted to promote clarity of thought and is known to be stimulating.

Lemons are also warming. So, despite lemonade being a refreshing drink in the summertime, lemons, as well as other citrus fruits can warm your body.

Wine Pairings

Chardonnay, Fume Blanc.

Spices

Garlic, thyme

Equivalencies

1 lb. = 4 - 6 medium lemons = 1 c. juice
1 medium lemon = 3 tbsp. juice / 2 - 3 tsp. zest

Substitution

1 tsp. lemon juice = 1/2 tsp. vinegar

Preparation When juicing a lemon, roll the room-temperature fruit on the counter while pressing firmly. This will help break the membranes inside the lemon and release the juices. Then, cut in half. Using a wooden reamer or a fork, insert in the lemon and twist.

Additional Information The juice of lemons can be frozen. Try freezing the juice in ice cube trays.

Frozen "spent shells" can be used to help keep certain produce (such as apples, bananas and potatoes) from turning brown.

Whole lemons can be frozen to be used for juice at a later date.

Use a toothbrush to clean the grater when needing zest in a recipe.

The pectin in lemons helps in jam making, jelly making, marmalade making or when wanting a more gelled cranberry sauce. Start off by adding 1 teaspoon of juice.

The acid content in lemons, makes them perfect for tenderizing poultry. Other products with high acid contents, such as vinegar and wine, are better for red meat, but can also be used for poultry.

In South America, ceviche is a fish dish that is marinated in lemon juice, lime juice and/or vinegar. The acid "cooks" the fish.

Recipes

Ceviche

by Peggy Trowbridge

  • 1 pound cod, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix the above ingredients well. Allow to marinate in refrigerator for two hours.

Drain juice completely. Combine and add to drained fish:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Mix well and add:

  • 1 medium tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 4 ounces cooked tiny salad shrimp
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Stir and refrigerate eight hours or overnight. Serve cold on a lettuce leaf with crispy tortilla chips.

Yields: 8 servings

Lemon Curd

Public domain recipe

  • 5 whole eggs
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • the zest of 2 lemons
  • 8 tablespoons sweet butter

Combine the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and mix. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water or in the top of a double boiler and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. This mixture will not curdle, so don't worry about overcooking it a little. Remove the bowl from the boiling water and stir in the butter until melted.

Refrigerated, this will keep for up to 3 months.

Traditionally served in Britain with crumpets, scones, in tarts and jelly rolls.

Yields: 10 servings

Raspberry Lemonade

By: Jennifer A. Wickes copyright 1997

  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 cups water
  • zest of 1 lemon

Blend raspberries in a blender. Juice the lemons. Mix all ingredients in a pitcher. Chill.

Yields: 10 servings

This article was originally published at Suite101.com: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/cooking_with_the_seasons/105783

Jennifer A. Wickes is the Food and Drink Dean at Suite University, the Food and Drink Community Manager at Suite101, as well as a freelance food writer and cookbook reviewer. She has written 5 eBooks, and has had several articles in printed publications, such as Cooking Pleasures magazine, Cook's Country, The Gooseberry Patch, Light & Tasty magazine, Ernest and Julio Gallo's Turning Leaf Wine pamphlet, as well as in the future book "Summer: A Spiritual Journey" by Gary Schmidt. http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/CulinaryJen


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