Lemons: Not Just for Meringue Pie Anymore
Lemons are one of the best foods for the health-conscious to have in their kitchens. Learn about the varieties of lemons, the health benefits of lemons, and some delicious ways to use lemons (such as putting them in sandwiches).
Types of Lemons Available
There are two types of lemons available. The first is the standard lemon, the fist-sized fruit that has been available for many years. The second is the Meyer lemon, which is actually a hybrid, a cross between the standard lemon and the mandarin orange. Meyer lemons originated in China, where they have been grown for hundreds of years (Swift, 1998).
Image Credit/Meyer Lemon/Wikimedia Commons/Debra Roby
Meyer lemons are smaller than standard lemons, tend to have more juice, and have a slightly sweeter, more floral taste. Some people say their flavor has hints of honey, orange, and lime, and call them “intoxicating” (Swift, 1998) . Meyer lemons are showing up in more and more supermarkets, but are not yet available everywhere.
Health Benefits of Lemons
There is a lot of information on the Internet about the miracle powers of lemon water. In fact, the miracle is probably the water, not the lemons. According to medical doctor Don Colbert, (2007) dehydration is responsible for many of the ills lemon water is purported to cure, although lemons do make water taste better, which makes people more likely to drink it.
Image Credit/Lemons/Wikimedia Commons/Andre Karwath aka Aka
Lemons, like all citrus fruits, are good sources of vitamin C (WHFoods). However, the greatest health benefit of lemons is their ability to flavor without calories. Lemons add a nice sour punch to many foods, but (like all acids), they also cause increased production of saliva, which carries more flavor to the taste-buds. That means lemons (like salt) can make all foods taste more like themselves, but without raising blood pressure.
Buying and Cooking with Lemons
When shopping for lemons, seek out thin-skinned specimens. These will have more juice. To identify good lemons, squeeze them gently. Thin-skinned lemons will give slightly under pressure, while thick-skinned lemons will not. Also, like all fruits, lemons should generally look good, with no blemishes or bruises, and feel heavy for their size.
Lemons are great for baked goods or squeezing into tea, but they can also be used in savory dishes. Lemon zest can be sautéed along with onions or garlic for tossing with whole-grain pasta. Lemons can even be used in sandwiches. Peeled and sliced very thin, they add an excellent counter-point to smoked meats, such as lean ham and Canadian bacon. So why not try some lemons for tonight’s dinner?
Colbert, Don. (MD). (2007) The Seven Pillars of Health. Lake Mary: Siloam.
Swift, S. (Producer). (1998, 12 December). The Splendid Table: Meyer Lemons. [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved 28 May, 2010 from https://splendidtable.publicradio.org/souptonuts/farmstand_lemons.html
WH Foods Staff. (n.d). Lemon/Limes. World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved 28 May, 2010 from https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=27