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Jewish Recipes --> Jewish and Israeli Foods --> Citrus --> Lemons

The lemon (Citrus × limon) is a hybrid citrus tree of cultivated origin. The fruit are used primarily for their juice, though the pulp and rind (zest) are also used, primarily in cooking or mixing.

Both lemons and limes are regularly served as lemonade or limeade, its equivalent, or as a garnish for drinks such as iced tea or a soft drink, with a slice either inside or on the rim of the glass. Only lemons, however, are used in the Italian liqueur Limoncello. A wedge of lemon is also often used to add flavor to water.

Lemon juice is typically squeezed onto fish dishes; the acidic juice neutralizes the taste of amines in fish by converting them to nonvolatile ammonium salts.

In addition, lemon juice is widely used, along with other ingredients, when marinating meat before cooking: the acid provided by the juice partially hydrolyzes the tough collagen fibers in the meat (tenderize the meat). The juice, however, is not an effective antibiotic, as is commonly thought.

Lemon juice is also sprinkled on cut fruit, such as apples, to prevent oxidation which would otherwise rapidly darken the fruit, making it less appetizing. Some people like to eat lemons as fruit, however water should be consumed afterwards to wash the citric acid and sugar from the teeth, which might otherwise promote tooth decay and many other dental diseases. It can be used on its own or with oranges to make marmalade.

There is a belief in Ayurvedic medicine that a cup of hot water with lemon juice in it tonifies and purifies the liver.

History

The lemon is a cultivated hybrid deriving from wild species such as the citron and mandarin. When and where this first occurred is not known. The citron, apparently the fruit described in Pliny's Natural History (XII, vii.15) as the malum medicum — the "medicinal fruit" — seems to have been the first citrus fruit known in the Mediterranean world. Depictions of citrus trees appear in Roman mosaics of North Africa, but the first unequivocal description of the lemon, is found in the early tenth-century Arabic treatise on farming by Qustus al-Rumi. At the end of the twelfth century, Ibn Jami’, personal physician to the Muslim leader Saladin, wrote a treatise on the lemon, after which it is mentioned with greater frequency in the Mediterranean. However, it is believed that the first lemons were originally cultivated in the hot, semi-arid Deccan Plateau in Central India.

The origin of the name "lemon" is through Persian (لیمو Limu), akin to the Sanskrit nimbuka. They were cultivated in Genoa in the mid-fifteenth century, and appeared in the Azores in 1494. More recent research has identified lemons in the ruins of Pompeii.[3] Lemons were once used by the British Royal navy to combat scurvy, as they provided a large amount of vitamin C.

Lemon Trivia:

  • The ladies of Louis XIV's court used lemons to redden their lips.
  • Cesare Borgia sent presents of lemons and oranges to his wife while she was in France, partly to impress Louis XII with his wealth.
  • Sailors used them (combined with rum) to combat scurvy.

 

Sept 2005 - Sept 2013
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Bagels.