Updated: Jul 13, 2020
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Though they may be known for being sour, lemons have a sweet side when it comes to hydration. They are in season all year long, but we crave them a little extra in the summertime. They can spice up almost any drink, appetizer, or dish! You can also use them as a garnish. Not a fan of lemons? Turn them into lemonade!
Hydration: 88-89% water
a great source of Vitamin C
good source of Vitamin B6, folate, and potassium
the peel can be used as an antiseptic for wounds, or as a natural alternative to hand sanitizers with toxins
used in Ayurvedic medicine to aid in digestion and help to detoxify the liver
very little fat and protein
10% carbs, primarily fibers (mainly pectin) and simple sugars (i.e. glucose, fructose, and sucrose)
A medium lemon provides about 20 calories on average (low-calorie)
low in sodium
In Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
A Brief History
Citrus like lemon grows on trees, and typically the rough outer skin is peeled before adding the inner fruit to a dish. But their roots grow even deeper, back to the first know reference in a 10th century Arab treatise on agriculture. The word lemon has actually been traced back to the Arabic laymun, and it's juice has been used for many centuries as a natural alternative in both cosmetics and medicine.
Many changes have happened in the lemon industry over the years, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that some commonly used elements in agriculture intended to produce better lemons have actually been proven "likely to be carcinogenic" (yikes). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found in one study that 95% of the citrus they sampled tested positive for pesticides. To get the most health and healing out of their properties, makes sure to purchase organic lemons if you can, and be sure to wash them well when you opt for conventional (non-organic) lemons.
Pick a good one
A citrus fruit that feels heavy (but not hard) for its size usually indicates it is ready to be enjoyed (and probably contains a lot of juice). Color is not a definitive indicator, but lemons that are bright yellow with firm, smooth skin are typically good.
Avoid lemons that are soft, spongy, wrinkled, or bumpy with rough or hard skin. If juicing a lemon, one with a smooth outer peel generally has more juice than a coarse, thicker-skinned, or lighter-colored lemon. A dull lemon means it's past its prime time.
unwashed at room temperature for up to 2 weeks
at room temperature for 5-7 days (i.e. if intending to juice)
in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks
sealed in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks
leftover juice can be frozen (i.e. in ice cube trays) for use later, good up to a year in the freezer
the exterior just before cutting and preparing
the cutting surface before cutting the fruit to smaller pieces/slices
soak it in lemon water
add it to salads
add it as a garnish
pair it with garlic to add flavor to fishy dishes
zest it, or properly dry & preserve the zest as a spice
use the juices
cook with it
bake with it
add it to a dessert
in salsas, marinades for meats, or with vegetable salads and in drinks
with grilled dishes
Lemons are incredible when you think about it- not only do they have vitamins that keep our immune system healthy and healing, they also aid in other body systems by helping our digestive tract and circulatory systems remain balanced.
USDA SNAPEd Connection. Lemon. US Dept of Agriculture. Accessed July 2020. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/
FoodPrint. Real Food Encyclopedia | Lemon. Grace Communications Foundation. 2020. Accessed at https://foodprint.org/real-food/.
Gordan B. How Much Water Do You Need. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Accessed at https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need
USDA Food Composition Database. Lemon. Accessed 2020. Accessed at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.
CalFresh Healthy Living. Citrus. EatFresh, California Department of Social Services. 2020. Accessed at https://eatfresh.org/discover-foods/citrus.
Haws S. Lemons, Food $ense Guide to Eating Fresh Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Utah State University Cooperative Extension. 2011. Accessed at https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1182&context=extension_curall.