Squeeze an Organic Lemon

We’ve had a rough time with Chinese exports over the last few years: melamine in pet food, drug residues in seafood, lead in children’s toys and poisonous chemicals in toothpaste.

But we can thank China and her neighbors for a beloved American fruit: the lemon, whose seeds were first introduced to us by Christopher Columbus. They were later planted by Catholic missionaries in Arizona and California, states that now produce 95% of the lemons we consume.

If you enjoy cooking, it’s hard to live without Citrus limon. The versatile fruit adds a pleasing pungency to teas and other beverages, fish and poultry entrees, vegetable dishes, salad dressings and marinades, and baked goods and other desserts. For future culinary reference: One medium lemon contains approximately 3 tablespoons of juice and 3 tablespoons of grated peel.

Available year-round, lemons have only 30 calories per 1/2 cup (sectioned and peeled). This serving size offers 90% of your daily vitamin C requirement and 3 g dietary fiber (about 10% of your daily requirement).

When choosing an organic lemon, look for a firm fruit with a bright yellow color. Pass on lemons that are soft, shriveled or have spots. A juicy lemon will feel heavy and have a thin skin. If the skin is green-tinged, expect a more acidic fruit.

I mix fresh lemon juice with water when I freeze ice cubes—a great way to add extra flavor to cold beverages. Before squeezing, roll a whole lemon along your kitchen countertop; this trick helps you produce more juice.

Lemons can be stored at room temperature for roughly 2 weeks. You may also refrigerate them for up to 6 weeks.

Tune in tomorrow for our weekend recipe: an Asian variation on traditional lemonade.

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  • MB Austin  August 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    As you pointed out, most lemons are raised in CA and AZ, and transported to other states. Your advice for selecting the commercial varieties is spot on. However, if you are lucky enough to live where lemons can be grown at home, make sure to try the Meyer variety. It is milder and sweeter than most grocery store varieties, and has a more tender skin. Once picked, these should be used within a few days, or refrigerated for a few more days’ storage. They are excellent in baking, as well as in drinks. I think of them as the heirloom tomato of the citrus world.

  • Dentists Denton  October 11, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    A refreshing way to enjoy your drink. That’s a very cool idea. Thanks for this post.

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