Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Lemons and Limes!

In cooking and juicing, none can deny the intense impact a lemon or lime has in enhancing the flavor of other foods. The lemon and lime one-two punch on flavor is a top notch addition, bundled in a low-calorie package (only 15 calories per ¼ cup).

Lemons evoke sunny summer days and lemonade stands. Most lemons are acidic, astringent, and tart. This combination adds a “refreshment” to any food from water to watermelon. The most common sour lemons are the Eureka and the Lisbon. The characteristics of a Eureka lemon include a textured skin, short neck on the end, and seeds, while the Lisbon is smoother in skin and is typically seedless. The most popular sweet lemon is the Meyer lemon.

Limes, on the other hand, evoke the passion of the islands and Caribbean. Limes come in both sour and sweet, though the sweet variety is not found easily in the United States. Sour limes have a higher acid and sugar content than lemons that add a distinctive “limey” taste. The Tahitian lime is the typical sour lime you find in your market. Specialty sour limes called the “key lime” provide the distinctive flavor to dishes such as key lime pie, as you can probably infer from the name, Key West.

History of the lemon and lime

Thought to have originated in China or India, the lemon was cultivated as a cross between the lime and the citron. It was first brought to Spain in the 11th century via Arabia. The Crusades are credited with bringing the lemon to the rest of Europe. Christopher Columbus brought the lemon in 1493 to the New World.

Lemons were highly prized for their ability to prevent scurvy throughout history and in the mid 19th century, they went for up to $1 per lemon. Even by today’s standards, a buck for a lemon is pricey, so it must have been a pretty coveted little fruit back then.

Limes flourish in the subtropics and the tropics. They were first introduced in the 10th century to Egypt and North Africa by traders returning from the Orient. Southeast Asia is thought to be this green fruit’s home. The lime spread to Spain in the 13th century and then throughout Europe and the New World. Limes were cultivated in the Caribbean and flourished easily in similar climates.

Lemon and Lime Nutrition

Lemons and limes contain flavonoid compounds whose properties include antioxidant and anti-cancer power. Limes in particular carry a flavonoid that has been proven to act as an antibiotic, and the lime has played a role in protecting against cholera.

As a power pack of Vitamin C, the lime and lemon play a healing role in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Lemons and limes both have almost 50% of your daily dose of Vitamin C in a ¼ cup serving. Further, studies indicate that ingesting Vitamin C rich foods provides humans protection against the onset of rheumatoid arthritis and protection against current inflammation for those with either disease.

Selection and Storage

Choose lemons that are thin-skinned, for they will be juicier. The rind should have a finely grained texture and the lemon should feel a bit “heavy” for its size. A solid yellow will indicate the lemon is riper than one with green around the edges. Avoid lemons that are too soft, too hard or wrinkled. Keep lemons at room temperature and out of the sun for up to one week. You can then store lemons in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

Limes should be firm and heavy for their size, too. A glossy skin that is a rich green is the optimal, but be aware that limes turn more of a yellow as they ripen. Their tart flavor is best when they are green. Avoid limes with brown spots. Limes are to be kept at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for up to one week. Afterwards, place them in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the crisper of your fridge, and they will stay fresh for about two weeks.

Lemonade or Limeade:

  • 8 lemons or 8 limes
  • honey or agave nectar
  • water or sparkling water

Remove the peel from both lemon and limes and juice.  Add water, a sweetener of your choice, and ice. Serve, enjoy!

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