Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lemon Tree (very pretty!)

Lemon pie.  Lemonade.  Lemon sherbet.  Lemon bars.  Lemon drops.  Lemon cookies.  Lemon zest.  Lemon water. Lemon pudding.  Limoncello.  Lemon basil.  Lemon thyme.  Lemon balm.  Lemon marinade.  Culinary dishes, both sweet and savory, utilize the tart, delicious juice and zest of lemons.   

Is there another citrus tree that produces fruit as versatile as the sunny-yellow lemon? 

Besides a variety of sweet treats, lemons contribute hints of tartness to savory dishes as well. Lemon juice can be drizzled over a hot tuna casserole for some extra zing.  Lemon juice can be sprinkled over a tossed salad in place of a high-calorie creamy dressing.  Lemon juice is a key ingredient when I make guacamole; although I’ve tried making guacamole with lime juice, a friend suggested using lemon juice instead… I’ve never gone back!

Lemon zest is a creative way to add the sweetness of lemon to a dish—without adding tartness.  Whether you use a lemon zester or Microplane® grater to harvest the zest, be sure to keep the lemon whole before proceeding.   Remove outermost yellow layer only, leaving all white pith remaining on the fruit (pith tends to be bitter and can offset the sweetness of the zest).  Lemon zest can be sprinkled over blueberry muffin batter; stir, then bake as usual.  Lemon zest can be mixed with freshly grated parmesan and sprinkled on your favorite hot pasta dish.

Lemon juice mixed with warm or cool water is an easy beverage to start off your day; this is especially beneficial for those trying to reduce caffeine intake.  Lemon juice mixed with baking soda can be an effective, low-abrasive cleanser; try it with a stiff brush to remove stains from sinks, or pots and pans. Versatile lemons are also incorporated into various cleaning aids, like dish soap and furniture polish.

Although lemon trees originated somewhere in Asia, China or India, they are surely here to stay. They thrive in southern states of the US and recently I was able to pick lemons from a tree in southern AZ.  Green, glossy foliage adorned each tree; the elliptical yellow fruits were ripe and ready!  
Citrus limon, you ARE my SUNSHINE!

M. Lynn Schmid,  Certified Master Gardener
 A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture