The desire for citrus fruits increased greatly after the 1890s when physicians found that people suffering from scurvy (a disease of vitamin Ca deficiency) could be cured by drinking citrus juice. Lemons were in such demand that people were willing to pay up to $1 per lemon, an astronomical price for that time. Later, scientists discovered that the juice is beneficial because it is the most potent and concentrated source of Vitamin C. Lemons also contain vitamins A, B1, and P, as well as potassium, magnesium, and folic acid.
The phytochemical limonene, which is extracted from lemons, is currently being used in clinical trials to dissolve gallstones and is showing extremely promising anticancer activities. The highest content of limonene is found in the white spongy inner parts of the lemon.
How to Select and Store:
When choosing a lemon, one should hold the fruit and determine if it is heavy. The heavier the fruit and the thinner the skin, the more juice it has. A ripe lemon should be firm, with a fine-textured peel with a deep yellow color. Acidity varies with the color of the lemon. A deep yellow lemon is less acidic that a lighter or greenish yellow one. Store lemons at room temperature, away from sunlight, and enjoy their cheerful color. They keep without refrigeration for about two weeks. Lemons can also be juiced and stored for later use.
Quick Serving Ideas:
- Place thinly sliced lemons, peel and all, underneath and around fish before cooking. Baking or broiling will soften the slices so that they can be eaten along with the fish.
- Combine lemon juice with olive or flaxseed oil, freshly crushed garlic, and pepper to make a light, refreshing salad dressing.
- If you are watching your salt intake (and even if you are not), serve lemon wedges with meals, as the tart lemon juice makes a great salt substitute.
Source: Murray, M. (2006) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Pocket Books.