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Thursday, January 10, 2013


Lemons:


The lemon tree is a small evergreen tree native to Asia.  Lemons were known to the Jews of Jerusalem in the 90's B.C.  They entered Europe near southern Italy in the first century A.D.   The lemon is oval in shape with a yellow textured skin. The fruit's juice, pulp, and peel, especially the zest are used for food.  

My personal remembrance about lemons is actually about grapes.  When I was in grade school in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, we lived in the second floor apartment of my grandparents' house.  Grandpa had planted some grapes in the backyard, presumably to use for wine.  Well, the grapes were a light green color with a thick skin.  They were really sour.  One day my brother and I decided to have some fun and we found that if you squeezed the grape, the pulp would shoot out the end. This we did with great relish.  After awhile the little girl who lived upstairs, about the age of our younger sister came out into the backyard.    We couldn't resist the temptation. So, we shot a couple of grapes at her.  She loved it and tried to shoot some back and said, "We're playing lemon!"  So now lemons remind me of shooting grapes with my brother back in Brooklyn. 

The juice of the lemon contains citric acid which gives it a distinctive sour taste.  Lemon juice is used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and cocktails.  It is used in marinades and as a short term preservative on foods that tend to turn brown after being sliced, such as apples, bananas, and avocados.  Lemon juice and rind are used to make marmalade and liqueur.  Slices and wedges of lemon are used for both garnish and flavoring of food and drinks.  The leaves of the lemon tree are used to make tea and for preparing cooked meats and seafood.  The oil of the lemon is used in aromatherapy.  While research showed it does not influence the immune system , it may enhance mood.  The low pH of lemon juice makes it an antibacterial.   For a Reader's Digest article about 34 uses for lemons visit: http://www.rd.com/home/34-reasons-to-load-up-on-lemons/.

Lemons are available in the supermarket all year, but peak season is May, June, and August.   Choose lemons that are heavy for their size and have skin with a finely grained texture.  The lemons should be fully ripened,  fully yellow with no green areas.  Avoid over-mature fruit with wrinkling soft  or hard patches and dull coloring. 

Lemons have unique flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.  Vitamin C can be helpful in preventing development of artherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.  So, always have lemons in your home. 

Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.