Though they’re available year-round, it’s in the heart of winter when lemons are in their glory. With a bold, refreshing tang and aromatic oils, lemons awaken the palate and refresh the taste buds. This versatile citrus can play a starring role in any course, enhancing both sweet and savory dishes.
The most common variety of lemon in the United States is the Eureka, characterized by a high acid content, juicy pulp and few seeds. In some parts of the country you can find Meyer lemons. Believed to be a cross between a lemon and either a mandarin or an orange, they have smooth, yellow-orange skins and are sweeter than Eurekas. Prized by chefs and backyard gardeners for their fragrant perfume and mellow acidity, Meyers are worth seeking out at farmer's markets and specialty food shops.
Why choose organic lemons?
- Choose organic whenever you can to help keep the residues of conventional agricultural chemicals out of your food.
- At Earthbound Farm, we grow our organic lemons without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think organic lemons taste better, too!
How to select and store lemons
- Lemons lose their vivid color and flavor as they age, so look for brightly colored, glossy-skinned fruit. Choose firm fruit that feels heavy — a sign they’re full of juice.
- Avoid lemons that are very hard (unripe), and pass by those with soft spots, greenish skin or signs of shriveling.
- Store your lemons in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tips for using lemons
- Always wash your lemons thoroughly before using, even if you’re not using the peel.
- Much of a lemon's flavor comes from the aromatic oil in its skin, which is why so many recipes call for grating (or zesting) the rind. When zesting a lemon, or any other citrus fruit, remove only the colored part of the peel with a citrus zester or vegetable parer; the white membrane (pith) that lies just beneath the peel is very bitter. Alternately, you can remove the peel by grating with the fine side of a grater. It’s easier to zest or grate lemons before juicing them.
- To get the most juice from your lemon, roll a room-temperature fruit on a counter, pressing firmly with your palm until it feels softened. This will loosen the juice from the flesh and give a greater yield. Cut the fruit in half crosswise, then squeeze, using your fingers to hold back the seeds.
- If you aren't using the zest, you can save the lemon shells by freezing them in plastic bags. When you need zest at a later date, simply grate the frozen shells.