THE LEMON always graces the fridge, be it fresh or pickled. And not unoften, they are used as beauty aids too. The lemon is thoroughly Indian. They originated in Asian countries such as India and Malaysia.
Lemons or lime fall into the citrus fruits group. The scientific name for lemon is citrus limon.
The lemon plant is a short, thorny shrub or bush and requires tropical climate for its optimal growth. The rind is dark green and on ripening turns yellow. The fruit is juicy with few seeds and is very aromatic. The juicy pale yellow acid flesh never fails to awaken and refresh the taste buds due to its mouth watering acid sweet taste. It is a soothing drink in summer as well as in disease conditions such as fever, diarrhoea etc. Lime is used as an appetiser and antiscorbutic other than cookery use.
It is also used in cosmetics therapy. Scurvy is a disease due to the deficiency of Vitamin C and characterised by body aches, bleeding gums etc. Long ago, there was a law making it mandatory for English sailors to carry lemon on their long voyages to protect them from scurvy. Due to this relationship between lime and this disorder they used to refer this condition as `limey.’
Every part of the lemon is used in sweets or cooking delicious dishes. From the rind to the juice it is used. Traditionally a drink of lemon juice, hot water and a teaspoon of honey have been used as a remedy for colds, obesity, and constipation. Lemon juice contains oil, which studies show, help relieve rheumatism by stimulating the liver to expel toxins from the body. Lemons are good for oral diseases, throat disorders, fevers, cold, beauty aid, stomach problems, obesity etc.
A squeeze over grilled fish or wedges are used and traditionally served as an accompaniment to fish dishes or salad dressing. Lemon slices are a popular addition to tea and cold drinks. Lemons give a wonderful flavour to sweet dishes.
Lemon peels contain pectin, which helps to set jams and jellies. Strips of peel can be added to candies to serve with coffee or add to cakes and puddings.
It is widely used in pickle and sherbets. It is used as a strain remover due its bleaching property. Due to their high Vitamin C content it prevents oxidation, so lemon juice is often brushed over cut fruit or white vegetables to stop them from turning brown.
Lemon juice is a good base for oral electrolyte solution for the treatment of dehydration and diarrhoea. A few drops of lemon juice added to a glass of home made ORS will provide adequate amount of potassium apart from other minerals. Since lemons are a good source of Vitamin C they are beneficial for building up resistance against infection.
Lemons can be stored and transported to long distance, as they do not get damaged easily. They can be stored at room temperature for weeks and for months under refrigeration. While buying, choose a lemon that is firm and heavy for their size. Lemon becomes pale as they over ripen and lose some juiciness and acidity. Buy deep yellow fruit with unblemished skin and avoid light yellow fruit.
Lemonade is known to have been used as a refreshing drink since the time of the Moguls. Modem investigations have tended to support this use, the essential oil being very good for cooling the body. This use can be extended to the employment of lemon juice with water and sugar as the best drink to take when you have a fever.
When the temperature of the body is high, whether from the effects of the sun or from the results of illness, it is necessary to take regular drinks in order to prevent dehydration. Sugar is not normally a desirable part of a healthy diet, nevertheless it has its part to play with lemon, and although there is no doubt that the addition of honey if available is very much to be preferred.
The high vitamin C content of the lemon has been used for hundreds of years to ward off scurvy among sailors and travelers. There is little sodium, so the fruit is good as a flavoring for those on a low salt diet.
Because in some countries the producers of lemons extend their keeping properties and improve appearance by coating them with the chemical diphenyl and waxing the fruits, it is a wise precaution to wash the lemon with a little unscented soap and then rinse thoroughly before converting the whole fruit to juice.
The pulp left from the juicing is excellent for the skin and can also soothe the bites and stings of insects. If you add equal parts of toilet water and of glycerin to the residue the mixture can be made to keep the hands smooth.
With all the advantages it has some disadvantages. Citrus fruits have been linked with migraine and some people are allergic to them.