There is nothing nicer than home-made lemonade when the weather gets warmer
Nothing can perk you up from a lazy summer slumber like a drop of sour lemon on your tongue. Almost unbearably pleasant, it’s one of those rare fruits that can really get your juices going. Lemon juice oozing from a crispy pancake is simply the best way to wake up in the morning. In high temperatures (and fingers crossed for plenty of those this season!); it offers a cool and uplifting respite. Definitely the triumphant winner over a bland ’99 ice cream any day.
Their exact origin is unclear. Lemons are widely believed to have originated in Southeast Asia (or Northern India to be precise) more than 4,000 years ago, but Arab traders in Asia first introduced the sour delight to eastern Africa and the Middle East. It was due to the Crusaders that lemons finally arrived on Western European shores. By the late 1800s, the British Navy had realised the power of the lemon in the attempt to combat scurvy and therefore gave all sailors citrus rations for long voyages. Although it was due to this revelation that we Brits gained the nickname ‘limeys’, debate now has it that sailors were actually using lemons deemed to be overripe limes instead. Lemons were also busy working their magic inland. Wealthy Victorians grew lemon trees indoors as a sign of prestige and favoured their lovely scent for keeping their huge estates smelling fresh and clean.
One of the healthiest (and quickest) ways to get lemon into your body is through drinking lemon water. Rich in Vitamin C, lemon can decrease the amount of alcohol in the liver (great for consuming if you’re landed with a heavy hangover), providing it with a much needed detox. Once you’ve finished spring cleaning the house, you could be well worth thinking about spring cleaning your body so it’s fighting fit for all the joys of summer. Highly antibacterial and antiseptic, lemon has long been renowned for its healthy qualities. It’s the ultimate go to when suffering from a cold as it helps to strengthen the immune system. Mix with hot water and honey for a quick fix solution.
Lemons have also been shown to provide positive effects on preventing memory loss, reducing stress and providing skin with a luminous, healthy glow. The flavonoids present in lemons also lower the risk of heart disease and strokes. They even – and pay close attention if you’re fleeing to warmer climates this summer – help the body burn fat. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. They help the body burn fat so indulge in some lemony goodness after a busy session at the gym.
The average lemon tree can produce up to 1,500 lemons a year, and with approximately 50 different varieties, you needn’t fear about the supermarkets running out of stock. Make sure you use the whole of the fruit when conjuring up culinary wonders.
One of the most commonly used flavouring ingredients, lemons have been described as a ‘flavour catalyst’, bringing tangy flavours and inviting aromas while enhancing a dish’s other tastes. It does this by interacting with the taste buds so that the other flavours become more pronounced. If you’re a bit of a bland chef, add some lemons to your arsenal and watch the compliments grow. Their highly acidic nature dissolves the connective tissues in meat so it helps to tenderize tougher cuts of meat, hence its popularity as a marinade. The zest can also be used to transform a cake or biscuit mix by emitting an inviting fragrance topped off by an appealingly resinous taste. I baked a lemon drizzle traybake recently and the guests couldn’t wait until it had cooled before getting stuck in! Alternatively add the juice to salad dressings or boiled vegetables for a bit of a lift.
A kitchen without a fruit bowl full of lemons is a sad state of affairs. They look beautiful, make cooking a lot easier and produce the most delicious flavours. However, if you prefer your lemons in liquid form instead, enjoy this summer with a gin and tonic, pretty much any summer cocktail or a vodka and tonic while putting your feet up in the garden.