Lemon

Lemons are part of the citrus family which is widely used in cooking.

Lemons are the tangy fruits of a small tree with dark green leaves and decidedly fragrant flowers. As flavoring, lemons sharpen the taste of many sauces, especially salad dressings, and their zest adds a decidedly citrus flavor to many cakes and desserts, balancing their sweetness.

The Lemon has many uses, having been linked in origin from Northwestern India, and spread throughout the world, as not only an edible, but a stain remover, a cattle feed, and claims are made of many different medicinal uses.

How to use and store

Choose a lemon that is smooth skinned and heavier than it looks. Store in the refrigerator or by salting.

5 lemons
1/4 cup salt
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick (opt)
3 cloves (opt)
5 to 6 coriander seeds (opt)
3 to 4 peppercorns (opt)
1 bay leaf (opt)

To soften the peel, soak lemons in lukewarm water for 3 days, change the water daily.

Quarter the lemons from the top, to about 1/2 inch of the bottom. Sprinkle the salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit. Place 1 tablespoon of salt on the bottom of a sterilized one-pint mason jar. Pack the lemons into the jar and push them down, adding more salt and the optional spices between layers. Press the lemons down, releasing their juices and to make room for the more lemons. If the juice released from the lemons doesn't cover them fully, add freshly squeezed lemon juice to cover. Leave 1/4 inch head space in the jar. Place the jarred lemons in a warm place to ripen for 1 month. Shake the jar everyday to distribute the salt and the juice.

To use preserved lemons, rinse the lemons (or by quarters) as needed under cool running water. Remove and discard the pulp - use only the peel. There is no need to refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep up to 1 year and the pickling juice can be used up to 3 times over the course of that 1 year.

Cooking with lemons

Both juice and rind are used to give the unique citrus flavor to many dishes, eithr sweet and savory. Lemon juice can be used in a marinade; try marinating chicken breast in lemon juice with rosemary before grilling them. Lemonade, sweetened lemon uice and water, is wonderful cooling drink.

Lemon Equivalents - 1 medium lemon equals approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Lemon bars

Start with the shortbread first. While shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon mixture. Bars will keep in fridge for 3 days, covered.

Shortbread

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Using a food processor process all of the ingredients until the mixture begins to form small lumps.
  3. Sprinkle into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and using a metal spatula, press evenly onto bottom.
  4. Bake the shortbread in the middle of the oven until golden, approximately 20 minutes.

Lemon mix

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Hot shortbread base, as per recipe above
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

  1. Whisk together eggs and granulated sugar, in a bowl, until combined well. Stir in lemon juice and flour. Pour the lemon mixture over hot shortbread. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
  2. Bake in the middle of oven until set, approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Cool completely in pan before cutting into 24 bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Curious facts

The Romans used lemons to add zest to their sauces. It was forgotten during the dark ages to be re-discovered around the time of the Crusades. Since then, it has become an essential ingredient in every kitchen. Their juice has been used for hundreds of years as souring agent and flavoring; also to prevent discoloration. Their zest flavors sweet and savory dishes.

How to identify lemons

The Lemon tree grows in height of 10-20 feet, and has thorns. The buds are blue in color, but when in bloom are white on the inside and a purple color on the out. The fruit itself is oval in shape and typically yellow in color, though some can have stripe of green, darker yellow or white. There are around 21 different varieties of lemon and lemon like fruits today.

How to grow

Lemon trees can not be grown where there is a danger of frost, however there are miniature trees now available for container and indoor growing. They need sun and warmth, well drained and not too acidic soil, and water well once a week.

Other ideas

Lemon marmalade, or a lemon and lime mix, is sure to please.

Grated lemon zest adds tang to the stuffing for a poultry roast

Sprinkled gremolata - grated lemon rind, with finely chopped garlic and parsley - over osso bucco before serving adds a unique flavor.

The taste of a Provencal daube is enhanced with grated lemon zest.


Lemon - citrus limon (citrus)

French citron
German zitrone
Italian limone
Spanish limón.