Lemon (Citrus limon)
It’s lemon season here in southwest Florida and our Myers lemon tree has produced two dozen lemons the size of small grapefruit. Talk about inspiration! These lemons are juicy and especially good with cooked chicken.
The beautiful lemon…its skin when grated, referred to as lemon zest, has been preserved and candied, grated into cakes, dried for teas and prized for its oil. Citrus seems to be sunlight compressed into a colorful skin, just as a sweet orange, grapefruit, lemon or lime any time of year.
It is said that historically the lemon was originally a native of Southeast Asia and brought to China, then to North Africa and traded by Arab cultures throughout the Mediterranean to find its way into the cuisines of Greece and Spain. Citrus became extremely important to the crews of sailing ships at sea for months at a time to prevent scurvy, as it is a source of vitamin C.
Explorers and traders brought the lemon to the West Indies in the 1500’s and only a generation later, lemon orchards were thriving in South America.
I find organic citrus at my local Farmers’ Market. Besides adding lemon zest, to cakes and sweets, try adding lemon zest to your bagel and cream cheese, or on toast with ricotta cheese in the morning. I have a favorite kitchen gadget for zesting or adding finely grated Parmesan or Romano to pasta. The gadget is the Microplane, a superfine grater. Next, I’ll try using it to grate fresh ginger root.
Ideas for cooking with lemons – Lemon Sorbet, Lemon Cake with poppy seeds, Light Lemony Crepes, Lemon Tart, White Fish with Lemon Sauce, Lemonade and lemon chicken -breaded chicken cooked in olive oil with black sesame seeds and fresh lemon juice.
Check out recipe sites or recipes in cookbooks at your local public library.
Cooking with Lemons –
Avgolemono Soup (Greek and lemon soup with rice)– I had this soup for the first time at a hotel in Greece when the concierge learned I was under the weather.Actually, I was really sick from drinking impure water. Lucky for me, this soup is the definition of comfort food. It has a chicken broth base with rice and plenty of lemon juice and it is simply soothing and delicious any time of year. I’ve served this soup for a light lunch added sliced, cooked chicken and also in the depths of a cold New England winter it is marvelous for supper to brighten the spirit with its fresh, lemony flavor and warmth. Do not use silver plated or silver utensils with this soup!
Prepare rice to make about 3/4- 1 cup of cooked rice. Heat to boiling 4 cups of chicken broth. Turn down the heat and simmer 20-25 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup heated broth. Meanwhile whisk 2 large eggs with 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and add the reserved hot broth. Gradually(emphasize, gradually here) add egg mixture into the hot broth, stirring constantly. Add 3/4 cup cooked rice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more rice or more lemon juice (1/4 cup) to taste. Serve with crusty bread, a fresh green salad and a dry white wine or sparkling water.
In addition, check out more lemon and lemony recipes and recipe sites or cookbooks at your local public library. Here’s a quick list of lovely lemony foods: lemon tart, lemon cake, chicken with lemon sauce, lemon and olive oil salad dressing, lemon and lentil soup, lemony hummus, lemon ice, lemon sorbet, lemon marinade for lamb or poultry, and of course, lemonade! Freeze fresh squeezed lemon juice with unsprayed rose petals into cubes and serve with summer drinks or in chilled, filtered water.
Check out Backdoor Garden – Herbs and Spices, a section of this website for lemony herbs.