Lemon is a yellow oval-shaped fruit obtained from lemon tree. Though lemon is a fruit it is used as a vegetable in culinary world. It is a citrus fruit that is used mainly for its juice. Its sharp and acidic taste makes it a good flavoring agent in various lemon recipes such as sauces and drinks. Apart from lemon juice, lemon zest and pulp is also extensively used in making enormous lemon dishes such as lemon pudding, lemon rice and lemon zest chicken. Lemon is considered as an inexpensive and readily available fruit throughout the world.
History and Origin of Lemon
It is presumed that India is the country where lemons were first grown. Northern Burma and China were also known for the first cultivation of lemon. In the period of Ancient Rome, this citrus fruit has entered in Europe, somewhere near southern Italy. Around 700 AD, Persians, Iraqis and Egyptians have started cultivating lemons. Americans have also come to know about the fruit through Christopher Columbus in 1493.
Culinary Use of Lemon
Other citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines are eaten independently but lemon is usually reserved for giving sour and tangy flavor to several lemon dishes. It can be used either as a squeeze over grilled dishes or pancakes, one or two tablespoon in salad dressing, or in form of slices in alcoholic drinks such as gin or vodka. A fresh lemon-juice drink is one of the most popular lemon recipes that provide nutrition as well as refreshing effect. Various baked lemon dishes are popular throughout the world. Mainly lemon pulp and zest is used in baked dishes. Grated lemon zest or rind makes a nice garnish in both drinks and lemon dishes. Especially in fish and meat marinades, lemon juice plays and important role. It acts as a meat tenderizer and its acid neutralizes the effect of amines in seafood. As a preservative also, lemon is widely popular. Pickles, marmalades and liquor are some other popular lemon recipes.
Popular Lemon Dishes
Lemonade is a most popular lemon-juice drink that is well-liked throughout the world. Pickled lemon is not only a Moroccan delicacy but it is extensively eaten as a condiment in Asian cuisine also. Lemon pie is also a very popular lemon dish that is served as a dessert. It is made up of fresh lemon juice and other ingredients. In non-vegetarian lemon dishes, lemon chicken is the most well-liked dish. Lemon peel and lemon juice, both are used to make this tangy-flavored dish. Lemon rice is one of the South-Indian lemon recipes that make a good use of lemon juice.
Cuisines Commonly Making Lemon Dishes
Lemon dishes are quiet popular in Indian as well European cuisines. Lemon rice and lemon chicken are the main lemon recipes used in Indian cuisine. Europeans eat lemon pies, lemon cakes, lemon marmalades and lemon sauces along with their main dishes. The highly popular lemon pickle is a Moroccan lemon dish that has acquired international fame due to its tangy taste. Lemon flavored drinks and cocktails are world-famous.
Preferable Methods for Using Lemon
• Squeezed – Lemon juice is squeezed and used as an ingredient in various lemon recipes such as lemonade, lemon rice and lemon glazed chicken.
• Grated – Lemon rind or lemon zest is often grated and used in various baked dishes.
• Sliced – Lemon slices are used as a garnish in various alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drinks.
• Pickled – Lemon pickle is a well-liked side dish. It can either be made in vinegar or in oil.
• Sprinkled – Lemon juice can be sprinkled over pancakes or grilled dishes. It can also be sprinkled on fruits to avoid browning.
Nutritional Value of Lemon
• Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C and it contains very few calories. Lemon dishes are often considered very healthy and low-calorie dishes.
• Lemon juice is believed to help in relieving rheumatism, as it stimulates the liver to expel all wastes and toxins from the body.
• The traditional lemon juice and honey concoction is one of the oldest lemon recipes have been used as a remedy for cough and cold. It helps in relieving sore throat.
• Lemon also provides calcium to the body.
Buying and Storing of Lemon
Lemons are available throughout the year but especially in winters the supply of lemons is very high. Here are few tips that may provide useful information on how to buy and store lemon as well as lemon dishes:
• Always buy firm and bright-colored lemons.
• Heavy-weight and smooth-skinned lemons contain more juice.
• Hard and rough-skinned lemons are unsuitable for culinary use as they contain less juice.
• Leftover lemon dishes should be consumed within 1-2 days of preparation as lemon acids may spoil the taste of the dish.
• At room temperature, lemons can be stored for up to two weeks and in refrigerator they can be kept for a longer period of three weeks.
• Lemon zest can be frozen for future use.
Types of Lemon
• Eureka – This variety is available throughout the year and it is one of the most commonly sold varieties of lemons.
• Lisbon – Lisbon lemons have bitter taste with high levels of juice. It is one of the best varieties of lemon.
• Bush lemon – It grows in sub tropics of Australia. Thick and hard skin of bush lemon makes it a well-liked ingredient in lemon recipes including lemon zest.
• Meyer – It is named after its discoverer, Frank N. Meyer. It is a thin-skinned lemon with less acid.
• Ponderosa – This lemon has a very hard and thick skin. It is also very large in size.
Non-food Use of Lemon
Apart from its use as an ingredient in various lemon recipes, lemon has many non-culinary uses too. Here are some such uses:
• Due to its low pH content, lemon is used as an antibacterial.
• Lemon oil obtained from lemon juice is widely used as a wood polish or wood cleaner.
• Lemon rubbed with baking powder is used as a shiner for copper ware.
• Lemon juice is also considered as a hair-lightener.
• Lemon was the favorite food item of Chinese emperor.
• The citric acid in lemon can even dissolve a pearl.