Lemony Facts & Tips

Lemons, one of nature's most versatile fruit, enhance and add flavor to a huge variety of foods, drinks, and condiments, as well as provide health benefits and zesty d├ęcor to any important event in your life.

Below you’ll find everything to do with decorating, juicing, storing, and using nature’s most versatile fruit, the lemon.

Did you know?

One medium sized lemon has 18 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, only 10 mg of sodium, and supplies 35% of the daily recommendation of Vitamin C.

Approximately 95% of the fresh lemons produced in the U.S. are grown in California and Arizona.

Always use non-reactive cookware, such as stainless steel, enamel or plastic, when cooking recipes containing lemons or lemon juice. Uncoated iron, copper and aluminum cookware can discolor food and leave a metallic taste.

The Anatomy of "Citrus Limon"

The lemon, like all citrus fruits, is actually the berry of its tree. The juiciest, tastiest lemons are small and either round or oval. They should be a rich yellow in color and have a thin, smooth-textured skin with a light shine. Too much green on the skin signals that the fruit is not yet ripe. When you pick up a good lemon, it should feel heavy for its size and yield just a little to the touch.

The rind unlike many fruits and vegetables, holds just as much culinary importance as does the fruit.  The zest, or the yellow portion of the rind without the white pith, holds tiny sacs of essential lemon oil, an extremely flavorful and fragrant oil that can be used in a great number of recipes.  It is also used in commercial cleaners, toiletries and perfumes.

The fruit, or pulp, of the lemon holds lemon juice, a fantastically useful juice for lemonade, marinade, marmalade, and so many other culinary delights. The juice actually enhances the flavor of many different foods, including fish, chicken and a myriad of vegetables. The acidity of lemon juice acts as a meat tenderizer for meat and poultry.

Uses:

  • Pierce a whole lemon a number of times with a fork, then place in the cavity of a chicken or turkey before roasting. This will keep the breast meat moist and infuse the whole bird with a delicious flavor.
  • Add both fragrance and decoration to any room of the house by placing a pretty bowl of lemons on a table.

 

  • Mix lemons and tall Forsythia branches in a tall vase to add interest and color to a dull corner.
  • Lemon can help remove a stain from white linens. Just rub the affected area with a cut edge of lemon, and then hang item to dry in bright sunlight.

 

  • Freeze fresh lemon slices and water in ice cube trays and serve with your favorite sun tea.
  • Freeze freshly made lemonade in ice cube trays for use in lemonade, sun tea or soda.

 

  • Boil thin slices of lemon with sugar to make small candied slices for garnishes. Candied slices are easily frozen in plastic wrap for later use.
  • To make the most of lemon as a garnish on a drink, rub the rind of the lemon (the outside) on the edge of the glass. The result is a hint of lemon with each sip!

 

  • Dried lemon slices make a terrific garnish. Just cut unpeeled fruit into 1/8" thick slices, discarding ends. Place on a large wire rack on a baking sheet and dry in a 170-degree oven for 4 hours. Remove from oven to air dry.

Perfect Pairings

Did you know that lemons, due to their acidity, actually tenderize meats and poultry as they flavor them? 
Their flavor also adds pizzazz to:

  • Seafood
  • Garden green salads
  • Melon & other fresh fruits
  • Water
  • Honey
  • Pastas, rice & other grains
  • Sweeter vegetables such as carrots, beets, green beans & peas
  • Olive oils
  • Breads, such as scones, pound cakes, muffins
  • Coleslaw

Juicing Lemons

Always let lemons warm to room temperature before zesting or juicing them; you'll notice a marked difference in yields from a room temperature lemon compared to a lemon out of the crisper.
Roll the lemon gently under your palm on a hard countertop or cutting board for a minute before juicing.  This will help break down the pulp and help you harvest every last drop of lemon juice.  If you don't have a juicer for citrus fruits, a fork and strong hands work just as well.

In general, lemons yield:

1 medium lemon:

almost 1/4 cup of juice
1 tablespoon grated zest

3 medium lemons:

about 1/2 cup of juice
3 tablespoons grated zest

6 medium lemons:

just over 1 cup of juice
6 tablespoons grated zest

If you're only in need of a few drops of lemon juice, poke the lemon with a sharp toothpick. Squeeze what juice you need, replace the toothpick, and store the lemon in the refrigerator.

Storing

Lemons stored in a sealed plastic bag will keep in a refrigerator for several weeks, or at room temperature for several days. Fresh lemon juice should be used within a day, as it loses much of its kick after a day or two out of its skin. Lemon juice freezes well, as do peeled and sectioned lemon pieces in their own juices. Whole lemons should not be frozen.