The lemon is a small yellow fruit that is native to Asia. The origin of the lemon is somewhat a mystery, but it is a hybrid between a sour orange and citron. Lemons were found in Europe near Southern Italy no later than the 1 st century AD, during ancient Rome. They were later recorded in Persia, Iraq and Egypt around 700 AD. The lemon was introduced to the Americas in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, who brought us the lemon seeds. Today India produces the most lemons and then Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, China, USA, Turkey, Iran, and Sorrento in Italy.
There are many health benefits to lemons; one is that it has high levels of vitamin C. The average lemon contains approximately 3 tablespoons (50 ml) of juice. The vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant against harmful environmental toxins, and protects the immune system which reduces the risk of hypertension. Historically lemons were used to fight scurvy on Navy ships.
There are many other uses for lemons besides lemonade. One way they can be used is for aromatherapy, which seems to enhance your mood. The low pH of its juice makes it antibacterial. The juice of the lemon may be used for cleaning and a deodorizer as well. Lemon oil is used for a polish, a wood cleaner, and an insecticide treatment. Many children start lemonade stands in their neighborhoods to make some spending money. Who knew that the lemon was so versatile? Here are some more “Tips” on lemons:
1. Clean Wooden Kitchen Tools – To sanitize, clean, and get that funky smell out of your wooden cutting board, spoons, and other utensils, rub a lemon on them to clean, then rinse with water.
2. Clean Drains – Is your kitchen drain looking a little grimy? Get rid of the grime and leave the drain looking shiny and new by cutting a lemon in half and rubbing the flesh over the icky area. Let the lemon juice sit for 1-2 minutes, then wipe clean.
3. Lighten Nails – Lighten discolored nails by soaking them in a cup of water with the juice from one lemon.
4. Whiten and Brighten Laundry: Skip the bleach and just add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the laundry instead for brighter, whiter, cleaner whites.
5. Freshen Vegetables – If your lettuce or leafy greens have gone a bit limp, you don’t have to toss it! You can liven them up with lemon juice instead. Add the juice from half of a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Place your lettuce or greens in the bowl and refrigerate for an hour. Dry the leaves before serving.
6. Wash Produce – Because lemons are acidic, natural, and safe, they’re basically perfect for cleaning any remaining dirt, bacteria, or pesticides that might be left on your produce. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a large bowl of water to clean your produce.
8. Cat Deterrent – Strangely, cats hate the smell of lemons. Try spraying a little in spots you’re to keep kitty away from.
9. Remove Strong Onion or Garlic Smell – Remove strong onion or garlic smells from both your hands and kitchen tools by wiping them down with some lemon juice.
10. Make a Buttermilk Substitute – You can make a simple buttermilk substitute when you don’t have any on hand using just lemon juice and milk.
11. Get Rid of Facial Blemishes – Get rid of pimples naturally by dabbing lemon juice on them several times per day. Lemon juice will also lighten dark spots from scars or skin damage, and exfoliate and clean your face if used as a facial cleanser.
12. All Purpose Cleaner – For a natural but effective all-purpose cleaner, mix together lemon juice and water in a spray bottle. This works for windows, counters, mirrors, and most other hard surfaces.
13. Relieve a Sore Throat – Gargling lemon juice or adding some to hot tea is a great way to help relieve a sore throat.
14. Clean the Microwave – If your microwave is starting to smell a bit funky, fill a microwave safe bowl with juice from one lemon and 1/2 cup hot water. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, then wipe down the microwave when it’s done.
15. Polish Furniture – Combine 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup lemon juice for an all-natural furniture polish.
16. Remove Stains from Marble – If you have a super stuck-on stain on your marble counter tops, lemon juice can come to your rescue. Cut a lemon in half and rub the exposed flesh in salt. Then rub the lemon over the stain to remove it. Rinse with water. Do this only as a last resort as lemons are acidic and can do more harm than good on porous stone if used too often.
17. Air Freshener – You don’t need an aerosol spray to freshen your home. Just cut a lemon into quarters and leave it in a bowl on the counter to get the room smelling lemon-fresh!
The lemon is mostly used for its juice, pulp, peel, and zest, which are used in preparing many recipes. Lemon juice is also used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and cocktails. The lemon leaf accompanies foods as a garnish, plus many teas are made with lemon leaves for flavor. Now that you know about lemons, let’s make some Lemonade!
This week I have two recipes to share, one is a “Traditional Lemonade” recipe (non-alcoholic) This drink should quench your thirst on a hot August day or for any day of the year. My second recipe is one of the tastiest and moist cakes I have ever made. I have gotten so many compliments on this cake which I call “Limoncello-Lemon Cake” Enjoy!
6 medium lemons, should yield 1 cup of juice
3 1/ 2 cups of water
3/ 4 cup of sugar (can be adjusted by taste)
Sprigs of mint leaves for garnish
Juice the lemons on a citrus reamer. If you roll the lemons on a counter before you squeeze, you will get more juice from each lemon. You can add some pulp if you prefer, but discard the seeds. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Combine the juice and sugar water in a pitcher. Stir well and serve over ice cubes with mint leaves.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour pan. (Bundt or a round Angel Food cake pan) You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter evenly in the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake before making the glaze.
For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. If you need more juice, just add a little at a time, so the glaze is thick but will drizzle. Pour over the top of the cake and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
***Trick: After I drizzle the glaze on the cake I pop it in the fridge for about 10 minutes so the glaze stays put and doesn’t drip down the whole cake.
Till Next Time……………………..
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