The exact origin of the lemon has remained a mystery, though it is widely presumed that lemons are wildly grown in both India Saudia Arabia and China. In South and South East Asia, it was known for its antiseptic properties and it was used as antidote for various poisons. The lemon was later introduced to Iraq and Egypt around 700 A.D originated in medieval Egypt. It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between 1000 A.D. to 1150 A.D. At this time, the lemon was first recorded in literatures to a tenth century Arabic treatise on farming and was used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens.
Lemons entered Europe (near southern Italy) no later than the first century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. The first real lemon cultivation in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the fifteenth century. It was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola along his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as ornament and medicine. In 1700s and late 1800s, lemons were increasingly planted in Florida and California when lemons began to be used in cooking and flavoring.
The name lemon was originated from Arabic līmūn لیمون and Persian limun through Old Italian and Old French limone.
Lemons are used to make lemonade, and as a garnish for drinks. Many mixed drinks, soft drinks, Iced tea, and water are often served with a wedge or slice of lemon in the glass or on the rim. The average lemon contains approximately 3 tablespoons of juice. Allowing lemons to come to room temperature before squeezing (or heating briefly in a microwave) makes the juice easier to extract. Lemons left unrefrigerated for long periods of time are susceptible to mold.
Lemon juice, alone or in combination with other ingredients, is used to marinate meat before cooking: the acid provided by the juice partially hydrolyzes the tough collagen fibers in the meat (tenderizing the meat), though the juice does not have any antibiotic effects.
Lemons, alone or with oranges, are used to make marmalade. The grated rind of the lemon, called lemon zest, is used to add flavor to baked goods, puddings, rice and other dishes. Pickled lemons are a Moroccan delicacy. A liqueur called limoncello is made from lemon rind.
When lemon juice is sprinkled on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced, such as apples, bananas and avocados, the acid acts as a short-term preservative by denaturing the enzymes that cause browning and degradation.
Many other plants are noted to have a lemon-like taste or scent. Among them are Cymbopogon (lemon grass), lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, scented geraniums, certain cultivars of basil, and certain cultivars of mint.
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