Ingredient of the Week: Lemons

Lemons, the fruit of an evergreen tree, are one of the most versatile products we use in the kitchen: they are a welcome ingredient in cocktails, salad dressings, some main courses, and of course, desserts. Although lemon juice is by far the most commonly used part of the fruit, the zest is frequently used in desserts. Lemons are rich in vitamins that are essential for the proper functioning of the human body and they are extremely low in calories.

Nutritional Facts
One average lemon (around 58g) contains just 17 calories and at the same time it boasts half the recommended daily amount of vitamin C we need. In other words, if you eat two lemons a day, or drink their juice, you can get all the vitamin C you need. Lemons also contain some fiber and some simple carbohydrates (which are healthy and necessary), and have virtually no fat, except for around 0.1 g of polyunsaturated fats, which, again, the body needs. If you want to learn more about the nutritional benefits of lemons, click here.

Popular Dishes
Lemon juice is what many people prefer to use in salad dressings instead of vinegar, its zest is the magic ingredient in a lot of cakes and cookies, and it is also a must in not just margaritas but also fricassees and meat marinades. Some popular recipes featuring lemons include:

Chicken Fricassee
Lemon Chicken
Lemon cake
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Curd
Lemon Vinaigrette
Olive Oil and Lemon Salad Dressing

Serving, Preps & Cooking Tips
Lemon juice is used fresh as a rule. Its taste is best when it’s fresh and it also keeps its vitamin C content intact — cooking destroys most of this vitamin. Still, we don’t always put lemon juice in a recipe because of vitamin C alone, we use it because of the refreshing citrus flavor that complements such a wide variety of dishes. Squeezing fresh lemon juice is a pretty straightforward business but if you need the zest for a cake recipe, remember to wash the fruit very well before grating the zest.

Shopping & Storage
Lemons are available all year round and most of us store them on the kitchen counter, probably because the thick rind of citrus fruit has convinced us that they don’t need any special storage care. But apparently, this is not true: experiments have revealed that the best way to store lemons is in the fridge, in a plastic bag.

Little (un)Known Facts
Lemon juice has a lightening effect because of the citric acid it contains. Cleaning nails from polish residue, getting hair highlights, and getting rid of tough spots on the furniture are among the various purposes lemons can be used for. The juice is also great for skin irritations.