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Lemons 101

The great thing about lemons are that you can pretty much use the whole fruit, whether you’re grating a little lemon zest onto a dish for an addition of intense lemon flavour, or using the juice, which has a wonderful sharp, sour taste. Though they are too tart for out-of-hand eating, adding the juice and zest is a beautiful way to flavour a diverse range of dishes, including seafood, salad dressings and desserts.

How to Select and Store Lemons

Choose lemons that are firm and heavy for their size, with a close-grained, slightly glossy yellow peel. To tell if a lemon is heavy for its size, pick up two lemons at once and go with the heavier lemon.  Avoid wrinkled fruits as well as those with hard or soft patches, or with a dull or excessively yellow peel, as these are all indications that the fruit is no longer fresh.

They can be stored at room temperature for up to one week, or in the fridge inside a plastic bag for 2-3 weeks.  

How To Prepare Lemons

How To Zest a Lemon: The zest of a lemon is the yellow part of the skin, it has an intense lemon flavour.  If you are using the zest (skin) of a lemon, first wash it under cold water and use a scrub brush to wash away any dirt or debris.  Then dry before zesting.  A fine grater, sometimes called a zester is the easiest way to remove the zest.  But, you can also use a vegetable peeler to remove sections of the peel, then slice or mince it.

How To Juice a Lemon: Before juicing a lemon, roll the lemon on a flat surface to soften it.  The easiest way to extract the juice of a lemon is to twist the lemon half on a reamer (juicer), but a fork works just as well.

If you’re serving a dish with lemon slices, try to remove most of the seeds. It will make it easier for your guests.

How to freeze lemons

Both the juice and the zest of lemons can be frozen. The candied or dried zest should be placed in an airtight container and stored in a dry and cool place. 

How Much Juice Does 1 Lemon Hold?

One lemon should yield approximately 2-4 tablespoons of juice. 

Lemon Varieties

There are two main lemon varieties. Eureka lemons are the most common, and are the lemon variety sold in retail stores. Meyer lemons are milder and are often grown on a smaller scale.

Lemon Tips

  • The zest of a lemon adds amazing flavour to dishes, but the inside white part is bitter. Use a zester to remove the zest to add the essence of lemon to a dish without the tartness. If you don’t have a zester to remove the zest from a lemon, use a peeler, or a fine grater.  Peel the skin, then finely cut in into strips, and then mince.
  • Before juicing a lemon, roll it on the counter under your palm, while adding a little pressure. This will soften up the lemon and make it easier to juice.
  • To tell if a fruit is heavy for its size, pick up two and choose the heaviest one.
  • Always zest your lemon before you cut it, as it is very difficult to zest it after it has been cut!
  • If you don’t have a reamer to juice a lemon, a fork will do the trick. 
  • To help get the most flavour from lemon juice when adding to recipes, try to squeeze the lemon so the juice runs over the outside of the peel. This helps to release the oils from the peel to intensify the flavour!

What does Lemon Goes Well With?

Lemon goes well with: capers, fish, garlic, shrimp, lobster, Mediterranean cuisine, basil, honey, coconut, chicken, ricotta and goat cheese as well as blueberries and blackberries.

Serving Suggestions

Lemons can serve both decorative and culinary purposes. They are a popular flavour enhancer, and a good substitute for salt. They also prevent some fruits and vegetables from discolouring. Lemons add zest to soups and sauces, vegetables, cakes, custards, ice creams, and sorbets.

Lemon juice may replace vinegar in dressings and is also used to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry, fish, and game.

The zest of lemons can be grated or sliced and is available candied or dried. It is often used to flavour meats, sauces, and desserts.

Adding a squeeze of lemon to your water is a healthy way to zest up your hydration habits.

Lemon Nutrition

Like all citrus fruits, lemons are very rich in vitamin C. They are also a good source of potassium and folic acid.

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