Monday, April 8, 2013

Random Post: Part 1: If Life Gives You Lemons

Lemons.  They are just so bright and happy.  You can keep them tart and tangy or turn them into something sweet.  They smell amazing and fresh. The best thing is they have tons of uses whether it is for household cleaning, cooking, or beauty. Who knew something so small could have so many uses.
Lately, I have really been into cooking with lemons. It must be getting closer to summertime! I have enjoyed lemons drizzled over chicken, making lemon bars, and always enjoy a slice of lemon in my ice cold water.

I have even considered growing a lemon tree. 

Here are some interesting facts about lemons.  I even learned a thing or two!

Please handle the fruit.
Regardless of variety, look for a lemon that feels heavy in the hand and which, gently squeezed, gives nicely and doesn’t seem to have a thick, hard rind (less juice inside). Lemons turn from green to yellow because of temperature changes, not ripeness, so green patches are OK, but avoid those with brown spots, which indicate rot.

Power in the key of C
One lemon contains a full day’s supply of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, but that’s the whole fruit; the juice holds about a third. Lemon juice is also about 5 percent citric acid, making it a natural for slowing the browning or oxidation of fresh, raw foods: apples, avocados, bananas, and other fruits. That power, and the C, makes the lemon a real health fruit.

Preserving lemons for savory zing
Lemons preserved in salt are a fragrant, distinctive flavoring in Moroccan and Middle Eastern stews, tagines, and other dishes. Find house-made preserved lemons at many Mediterranean/Middle Eastern groceries―we prefer these to the factory variety for their fresher flavor. Go easy: They’re salty!

Makes a versatile household cleaner
Dip a halved lemon in salt for a bit of gentle abrasive power, then scour brass, copper, or stainless-steel pots, pans, and sinks. Rub a cut lemon (sans salt) on aluminum to brighten it. Used lemons tossed in the disposal will deodorize it.

Get the most from every fruit.
Before juicing, roll a room-temperature lemon under your palm to break down the cells inside the fruit that hold liquid. If a fruit is especially hard (and sometimes it’s hard to find a good one in an entire supermarket bin), microwave the fruit for 20 seconds. You should get 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice per fruit.

In a pinch, is this a good lemon substitute?
We think not. Those cute little plastic lemons do contain lemon juice, but after the juice is reconstituted and mixed with preservatives the taste is notably off, not fresh, a bit harsh and thin. It lasts for months but doesn’t really add that divine fresh-lemon essence.

The special case of the Meyer
In 1908, USDA employee Frank Nicholas Meyer brought a little fruit back from China that looked like an orange-yellow lemon but tasted much sweeter. The Meyer “lemon” is thought to be a cross between lemon and mandarin orange. Lemon-fragrant with a sugary soul, Meyers are fun to experiment with in both sweet and savory dishes.


Adapted from Cooking Light
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