Lemons are heavily utilized as a flavoring agent in various forms. The fruit is ovate with pointed ends. Its peel is semi-thick, porous and laden with essential oils. The bright yellow thin outer layer of the peel is very edible and used for multiple applications. When the peel is removed or zested it releases intense sweet citrus aromas. The flesh is translucent yellow and juicy when ripe. Its juice is highly acidic and tart, though extremely versatile in its uses. Depending on variety, lemons may contain no seeds or numerous seeds.
Lemons are available year-round.
The true lemon, Citrus limon is known as limone, limón, limón agria, limón real, or limón francés. It is a member of the family, Rutaceae. Most common commercial lemon varieties are either Lisbon or the Eureka lemon, of which hybrids of the Eureka lemon are even more common as they are improved versions of the original. Most other true lemon varieties are grown in gardens or for limited production on a local market scale.
Lemons are versatile and can be added to a wide variety of dishes across almost every cuisine. Add juice or zest to soups, dips, mayonnaise and whipped cream. Cook whole lemon slices into marmelade or cook with eggs and butter into curd. Pack lemon slices in salt to preserve. Flavor cakes, breads or scones. Make scented sugar by rubbing lemon zest into sugard granules. Juice fresh lemons and combine with sugar and water to make lemonade, add to cocktails or freeze into granita. Mix with oil for a vinaigrette. Fresh lemons will keep at room temperature or refrigerated for 1-2 weeks.
The lemon is both the pinnacle and ubiquitous citrus of many cultures from Italy to France to Egypt, Spain and America. Its color, aromas, taste and multitasking properties make it the most popular and commercially successful citrus fruit throughout the world. Lemons also have the highest preserving qualities of all citrus making them more suitable for long transports.
The lemon’s origins are traced back to northern India, where the lemon tree still grows wild. Lemons were then cultivated in Africa, Europe and eventually the New World. Lemons are known to tolerate drought and poor soil, though they are cold sensitive and require some rainfall for continuous growth. They grow most prolifically in Mediterraneanesque climates. Lemon trees that undergo stress will produce far less yields and inconsistent quality fruits. Original lemon cultivars were propagated by seed but modern varieties are grown on rootstock of both lemon and other citrus varieties. Under ideal conditions lemon tress will produce lemons year round.