Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
One of the most common fruit trees. Both savory and sweet dishes benefit from the tangy, refreshing flavor of lemons.
The zest, the juice, and the fruit (sliced or quartered) can be used. Lemon juice poured over other fruits prevents discoloration of the flesh
when exposed to air. The juice can be used as a substitute for vinegar if a lighter-flavored vinaigrette is desired
Fun Facts About Lemons:
The ladies of Louis XIV's
court used lemons to redden their lips.
Because of their high content
of Vitamin C, the British Royal Navy loaded their ships’ stores with lemon
to help sailors combat scurvy which is caused by Vitamin C deficiency.
Lemonade is thought to be an Egyptian
original-at least according to the earliest documentary evidence. Sources
say that lemon juice mixed with sugar was sold around the year 1104 in a
Jewish community in the Egyptian city of Cairo.
The demand for lemons and
their scurvy-preventing properties hit a peak during the California Gold
Rush of 1849. Miners were willing to pay huge sums for a single lemon. As a
result, lemon trees were planted in abundance throughout California.
Although early U.S. lemon production centered in Florida,
California is now the lemon state, ranking No. 1 in lemon production.
(Arizona is a distant second.) The fruit came to Sacramento with the 49ers,
who relied on lemons for Vitamin C while mining. Soon after, California
farmers adopted lemons as a crop.
Next time you have a sore throat, reach for a
lemon! Add the juice of one lemon to an equal amount of hot water for an
1 medium-size lemon = approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest = 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
One (1) cup of lemon juice has only 61 calories (that's less than 4 calories per tablespoon) and no fat. The
juice is 5 to 6 percent citric acid. Lemons are extremely high in Vitamin C and also are a good source for foliate and potassium.
How To Purchase
and Store Lemons:
Choose smooth-skinned lemons that are heavy for their size. The skin should have a fine grain and bright yellow color.
(Streaks of green on the skin of the lemon usually indicate more acidity.)
Avoid lemons that feel soft or spongy with skin that looks or feels wrinkled, bumpy, rough or hard. Coarse,
thick-skinned and light lemons have less juice.
Lemons can be kept indoors at room temperature for about a week before they tend to become soft or wrinkled.
For longer storage, store lemons in the refrigerator or freeze.
Freezing Whole Lemons:
The next time you see lemons or limes on sale at your local grocery or produce store, buy an extra amount of lemons and freeze them whole.
- First wash the skins well and
- Place the whole lemons in a
freezer bag and store in your refrigerator.
- Zesting the frozen lemon:
Grate the zest off the lemon while still frozen.
- Juicing the frozen lemon:
Place lemon in the microwave for a few second (or submerge in
cold water for approximately 15 minutes). After defrosting, the
lemon will be softer (or more mushy) and much easier to juice.
Freezing lemon juice: Instead of keeping whole lemons, store the juice. Squeeze lemons, pour juice into an ice
cube tray and freeze. Once they're solid, transfer the lemon cubes into a freezer bag, where they will keep for several months. Each cube equals the juice
of one medium lemon.
Lemons also can be preserved whole or quartered with salt. Preserved lemons are popular in Middle Eastern and Moroccan recipes.
Learn how to preserve lemons in salt, click
How To Juice Lemons:
Squeeze your own lemon juice! - Bottled lemon juice should be substituted only if fresh lemons are not
available. To view different types of
citrus juicers and to purchase one (if you desire).
Room-temperature lemons, limes and orange will yield more juice than those that are refrigerated.
Microwaving the fruit for 15 to 20 seconds before squeezing will help extract more juice. Don't overdo it. You don't want to boil the juice.
Use your palm to roll lemon, lime, or orange around on the countertop a few times before squeezing.
If just a few drops of juice are needed, pierce the skin with a toothpick and squeeze out what you need. To store it, reinsert the toothpick,
put the lemon or lime into a plastic bag, and refrigerate.
Store fresh lemon juice in the refrigerator for a week or so. NOTE: If I have a large amount of juice to store, I put the juice in ice cube trays and
freeze for later use.
When I am in a hurry, I cut the lemon in half, and then cup one hand under the lemon as squeeze the lemon with the other hand. The cupped hand is to catch the seeds.
How To Zest Lemons:
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Lemon Zest and Lemon Zester
Zest is the outer colored portion of the citrus peel. Freshly-grated orange, lime or lemon zest packs a flavor wallop no bottles dried zest can match.
When removing the skin from lemons or other citrus fruits, be sure to take only the thin outer zest or colored portion. The white pith will give your dish a bitter under taste.
Use a citrus zester (available in the kitchen specialty shops) to obtain long, thin strands of citrus zest.
A zester has five tiny cutting holes that create threadlike strips of peel.
Press firmly as you draw the zester down along the skin of the fruit. For continuous strips of zest, begin at one end of the fruit,
and cut in a spiral around and down.
Zesting & Grating Tips:
- If you are using a lemon for zest and juice, grate the zest first and then squeeze the juice.
- When grating lemon peel, use this fast and easy trick. Cover the zest side of your grater with plastic wrap
and grate the lemon over the plastic wrap (remember don't grate the bitter white pith that's under the peel).
Most of the zest will remain on the plastic wrap and thus can't stick in the holes of the grater. Just pull the plastic wrap off and shake the zest onto a plate.
How To Use A Zester:
Lemon Zester (top of photo) - Traditional zester, which makes long, thin strands of zest, or a knife.
Be sure to finely chop the strands with a knife. A tool for removing the zest of a lemon. A lemon zester allows one to remove the zest (and only the zest) in long strips.
A zester has tiny cutting holes that create threadlike strips of peel.
Lemon Grater (such as the Microplane version - bottom of photo) - You will also note that many recipes call for grated zest or
peel. In this case, use a fine grater to remove the peel. To zest with the Microplane, just rub the lemon in one direction against the
little blades. Turn the lemon as you go so you remove only the yellow part.
Vegetable Peeler or Knife - If you
do not have a zester or grater, use a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp knife. Carefully peel off a strip of the lemon skin, working top to
bottom. Peel only the topmost layers of the skin. If there is any white showing on the underside (the pith), you've peeled too deep.