I rate lemons as one of the top ingredients in cooking. Whatever your culinary style you will be hard pressed to find a more versatile food-stuff in your gastronomic repertoire. Lemons work equally well in sweet as well as savoury dishes and their role will range from enhancing the flavour, to preserving some food from going brown, to garnishing the plate. Outside the kitchen, lemon has a multitude of applications including its use in cosmetics, fragrances, cleaning products, candles and so forth.
Everyone knows that lemons are packed with vitamin C. But they are also a good source of magnesium and potassium as well as other nutrients, including vitamin B. In shops you will usually find two choices: waxed and unwaxed lemons. The former are protected from blemishing and will last longer in your fridge. They are perfect for juicing. The unwaxed types are best for zesting and adding to drinks, but their lifespan is shorter and they are quick to bruise.
- The legend has it that at some point in history, the Catalan priests excommunicated lemon claiming it as “evil” fruit by rationalising that the devil failed to copy the orange and make the lemon perfectly round.
- Lemons’ scurvy-preventing properties are well associated with the British Navy as throughout long voyages in 18th century their ships carried the fruit so that the crew could fight the disease. Less known might be the fact, that the demand for lemons soared during the California Gold Rush in 1849, when allegedly the miners who feared scurvy were prepared to pay up to $1 per fruit, equivalent to about $30 in today’s’ money!
- It is claimed that lemons contain more sugar than strawberries.
- The custom of serving a slice of lemon with fish can be traced back to the Middle Ages when it was believed that the lemon juice would dissolve a fish bone should a person accidentally swallow it.
- The Romans used lemons to stop moths eating their clothes, whereas the European ladies in the Renaissance era used lemon juice to redden their lips.