Produce Spotlight: Lemons

 

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Everything you Need to Know About Lemons

The origin of the lemon is unknown, though lemons are thought to have first grown in Assam (a region in northeast India), northern Burma or China. A genomic study of the lemon indicated it was a hybrid between bitter orange (sour orange) and citron.

Lemons entered Europe near southern Italy no later than the second century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. They were later introduced to Persia and then to Iraq and Egypt around 700 AD. The lemon was first recorded in literature in a 10th-century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens. It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between 1000 and 1150.

The first substantial cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century. The lemon was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola on his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as an ornamental plant and for medicine. In the 19th century, lemons were increasingly planted in Florida and California.

In 1747, James Lind’s experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding lemon juice to their diets, though vitamin C was not yet known.

The origin of the word lemon may be Middle Eastern. The word draws from the Old French limon, then Italian limone, from the Arabic laymūn or līmūn, and from the Persian līmūn, a generic term for citrus fruit, which is a cognate of Sanskrit (nimbū, “lime”)

The great thing about lemons are that you can pretty much use the whole fruit, whether you’re grating a little lemon zest onto a dish for an addition of intense lemon flavor, or using the juice, which has a wonderful sharp, sour taste. Though they are too tart for out-of-hand eating, adding the juice and zest is a beautiful way to flavor a diverse range of dishes, including seafood, salad dressings and desserts.

There are two main lemon varieties. Eureka lemons are the most common, and are the lemon variety sold in retail stores. Meyer lemons are milder and are often grown on a smaller scale. Other lesser known varieties include the Bonnie Brae, the Femminello and the Yen Ben.

 

 

Eureka Lemons
The ‘Eureka’ grows year-round and abundantly. Eureka lemon trees grow about 10 to 12 feet talleureka2 and are more wide-spreading the Meyers. This is the common supermarket lemon, also known as ‘Four Seasons’ (Quatre Saisons) because of its ability to produce fruit and flowers together throughout the year. This variety is also available as a plant to domestic customers. There is also a pink-fleshed Eureka lemon, with a green and yellow variegated outer skin.

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but a lemon by any other name will not taste as sweet. There is a huge difference between the Meyer lemon and the Eureka lemon, in both appearance and taste.

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Meyer Lemons

The Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri), is a hybrid citrus fruit native to China. It is a cross between a citron and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid distinct from the common or bitter oranges.

Mature trees are around 6 to 10 ft (2 to 3 m) tall with dark green shiny leaves. Flowers are white with a purple base and fragrant. The fruit is rounder than a true lemon, deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe, and has a sweeter, less acidic flavor.

It was introduced to the United States in 1908 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.

The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China in garden pots as an ornamental tree. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse during the rise of California Cuisine starting in the 1970s. Popularity further climbed when Martha Stewart began featuring them in her recipes.

 

 

Bonnie Brae

The ‘Bonnie Brae’ is oblong, smooth, thin-skinned, and seedless. The Bonnie Brae was a popular variety of lemon in the late 1800s through early 1900s that was first cultivated in Bonita, California, near San Diego. Although no longer produced commercially, trees can be found California.

bonnie brae

 

 

 

Femminello
The ‘Femminello St. Teresa’, or ‘Sorrento’ is native to Italy. This fruit’s zest is high in lemon oils. It is the variety traditionally used in the making of limoncello.

sorrento lemons

 

 

 

Yen BenLemon-Yen-Ben.jpg

The Yen Ben (Citrus × limon) was first grown in Australia and has been a popular lemon to grow in New Zealand since the 1970s. It’s smooth and thin rind with very few seeds and high percentage of juice makes it easy to use and rewarding in the kitchen. Yen Ben is a winter-producing lemon, though produces multiple crops throughout the year with the majority of fruit harvested in winter. For successful growing and fruiting, plant in a large container or tub so it can enjoy maximum warmth and sunshine Protect from cold strong winds, and hard winter frosts.

meyer and yen

The Meyer lemon (left) is a hybrid of a mandarin and a lemon. The hardiest citrus in New Zealand, it is popular with home gardeners. The Yen Ben (right) is a true lemon and the main variety grown commercially in New Zealand. It has a smooth, thin skin and few seeds.

 

How to Select and Store Lemons

Choose lemons that are firm and heavy for their size, with a close-grained, slightly glossy yellow peel. To tell if a lemon is heavy for its size, pick up two lemons at once and go with the heavier lemon. Avoid wrinkled fruits as well as those with hard or soft patches, or with a dull or excessively yellow peel, as these are all indications that the fruit is no longer fresh.

They can be stored at room temperature for up to one week, or in the fridge inside a plastic bag for 2-3 weeks.

How to Prepare Lemons

How To Zest a Lemon: The zest of a lemon is the yellow part of the skin, it has an intense lemon flavor. If you are using the zest (skin) of a lemon, first wash it under cold water and use a scrub brush to wash away any dirt or debris. Then dry before zesting. A fine grater, sometimes called a zester is the easiest way to remove the zest. But, you can also use a vegetable peeler to remove sections of the peel, then slice or mince it.

How To Juice a Lemon: Before juicing a lemon, roll the lemon on a flat surface to soften it. The easiest way to extract the juice of a lemon is to twist the lemon half on a reamer (juicer), but a fork works just as well.

If you’re serving a dish with lemon slices, try to remove most of the seeds. It will make it easier for your guests.

How to freeze lemons: Both the juice and the zest of lemons can be frozen. The candied or dried zest should be placed in an airtight container and stored in a dry and cool place.

How Much Juice Does 1 Lemon Hold?
One lemon should yield approximately 2-4 tablespoons of juice.

Tips

•The zest of a lemon adds amazing flavor to dishes, but the inside white part is bitter. Use a zester to remove the zest to add the essence of lemon to a dish without the tartness. If you don’t have a zester to remove the zest from a lemon, use a peeler, or a fine grater. Peel the skin, then finely cut in into strips, and then mince.

•Before juicing a lemon, roll it on the counter under your palm, while adding a little pressure. This will soften up the lemon and make it easier to juice.

•To tell if a fruit is heavy for its size, pick up two and choose the heaviest one.

•Always zest your lemon before you cut it, as it is very difficult to zest it after it has been cut!

•If you don’t have a reamer to juice a lemon, a fork will do the trick.

•To help get the most flavor from lemon juice when adding to recipes, try to squeeze the lemon so the juice runs over the outside of the peel. This helps to release the oils from the peel to intensify the flavor!

What Goes Well With Lemons?

Because of their acidity, lemons goes well with: capers, fish, garlic, shrimp, lobster, Mediterranean cuisine, basil, honey, coconut, chicken, ricotta and goat cheese as well as blueberries and blackberries.

Serving Ideas

Lemons can serve both decorative and culinary purposes. They are a popular flavor enhancer, and a good substitute for salt. They also prevent some fruits and vegetables from discoloring. Lemons add zest to soups and sauces, vegetables, cakes, custards, ice creams, and sorbets.

Lemon juice may replace vinegar in dressings and is also used to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry, fish, and game.

The zest of lemons can be grated or sliced and is available candied or dried. It is often used to flavor meats, sauces, and desserts.

Adding a squeeze of lemon to your water is a healthy way to zest up your hydration habits.

Nutrition

Like all citrus fruits, lemons are very rich in vitamin C, providing 64% of the Daily Value in a 100 g serving . They are also a good source of potassium and folic acid.

Lemons also contain numerous phytochemicals, including polyphenols, terpenes, and tannins. Lemon juice contains slightly more citric acid than lime juice (about 47 g/l), nearly twice the citric acid of grapefruit juice, and about five times the amount of citric acid found in orange juice

Sources

Gulsen, O.; M. L. Roose (2001). “Lemons: Diversity and Relationships with Selected Citrus Genotypes as Measured with Nuclear Genome Markers”. Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science. 126: 309–317.

Lind, James. (1757). A treatise on the scurvy. Second edition. London: A. Millar.

Morton, Julia F. (1987). “Lemon in Fruits of Warm Climates”. Purdue University. pp. 160–168.

Produce Made Simple: Lemons (2019) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed February 2, 2019. https://producemadesimple.ca/lemon

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Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomato Relish⠀

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Fresh ingredients like basil, lemons and later summer cherry tomatoes, shine in this easy dish that is so easy to make………and yet,  your family and friends will be impressed for such and elegant meal!⠀

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:⠀

For the Salmon:
One whole salmon fillet, with skin on,  2 – 2.5 pounds
1/2 lemon, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil⠀
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh  marjoram leaves⠀
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, finely minced⠀
Kosher salt, to taste⠀
Freshly ground black pepper⠀
1/4 bunch whole fresh basil, for garnish
Lemon slices, for garnish

For the Roasted Cherry Tomato Relish:
3 pints cherry tomato⠀
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
A few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar ⠀
1 small bunch basil, cut into chiffonade⠀

For the Relish:
Preheat oven to 450° F.

Toss cherry tomatoes, garlic, shallot and thyme with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the tomato mixture out in a single layer and roast, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst, 20–25 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

Add the tomato mixture to a large bowl, along with the red onion, balsamic vinegar and basil. Toss the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Salmon:
Preheat the oven, set to broiler.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using clean paper towels, pat the salmon dry and place on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix the dried herbs and garlic powder with the olive oil. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the salmon.

Place the salmon in the oven and cook under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300° F. Place the lemon slices over the salmon and return it to the oven and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the salmon is easily flaked with a fork, depending on the thickness of the fish and the temperament of the oven. Be careful in not to overcook the salmon.

To serve, carefully lift the salmon along with the parchment paper and place on a large serving platter. Top the salmon with the roasted cherry tomato mixture, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh basil leaves.

Cooks Notes:
This recipe is so versatile that  any thick fillet or fish steak can be used  in  the place of salmon. Excellent substitutes are swordfish and halibut.

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Blueberry Turnovers with Lemon Glaze

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Blueberries… there’s really nothing that tastes more like summer!  We went to work in the kitchen this weekend and decided to cook up some yummy blueberry turnovers.

Making flaky turnovers is about as easy as it sounds, and it’s even more fun to do so with family Simply just lay out squares of puff pastry, spoons the blueberry filling into the centers, and fold over one corner to create a pudgy, tightly sealed, triangular pastries.  Brush the tops with egg wash to help them turn deliciously golden when baked, and drizzle with a lemony powdered sugar glaze to create just the right balance of sweet and tart.

These turnovers with summertime flavors are great for desserts or for a nice casual Saturday morning brunch. We hope you will  enjoy these delectable treats!

Serves 8

Ingredients:
Filling:
Vegetable cooking spray
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 sheets puff pastry (*See Cook’s Notes)

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk + 1 Tablespoons of water
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Glaze:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450º F.

Lin two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly coat with vegetable spray. Set aside.

In a bowl mix blueberries, lemon zest, sugars, and cornstarch until the blueberries are well coated. Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry on a flour coated cutting board and cut each sheet into 4 even squares. Spoon out 1 to tablespoons of the blueberry mixture into the center of each square and fold each over to create 4 triangles. Seal the edges of the pastry with a fork and prick 2 to 3 air vents in each.

Brush turnovers with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place turnovers on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for 22-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together confectioner’s sugar , lemon juice and honey to make the  glaze. When turnovers are slightly cool, drizzle glaze over the top with a spoon or rubber spatula. Serve warm.

*Cook’s Notes:
Making puff pastry from scratch is a time consuming process and many home cooks, like the option of using commercially prepared puff pastry sheets that are found in the frozen dessert section of the local supermarkets.

However, if you are adventurous and want to make you puff pastry from scratch, here is a quick and easy recipe from  Gemma Stafford,  a professional chef.  Her recipe is easy and fast to make without all the folding in making traditional puff pastry. The secret to this great recipe is the use of frozen grated butter. Follow the link  to Chef Stafford’s website, BiggerBolderBaking.com , for the recipe.

 

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Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

Protected by Copyscape