Lemons and Cubes
I have discovered that eating fresh fruits and vegetables can improve health. I love eating a large plate of salad with a home grilled piece of chicken or fresh salmon. But what makes it even better is, some drizzled olive oil and some lemon juice. Lemons are a must in my kitchen. Their bright yellow color alone brightens my day. For me it makes sense to buy lemons in bulk, because it’s lots cheaper that way and it’s available when I need one. When life hands you lemons, I think you can do more than just lemonade 😉 . You can make make your meals taste better, you can decorate with them or make lemon cubes. When life hands you sour and bitter lemons, just say thank you! now I have a chance to become creative and boost my immune system.
I think most of us associate large use of lemons in Mediterranean cooking. I always thought that the Greeks were the first civilization to grow lemons, considering how much they use it. Even the Middle Eastern cooking which I grew up with, use a lot of lemons. But recent study shows that growing lemons started back in Southeast Asia and worked its way to the Mediterranean area by way of Middle East. It took Centuries before the other citrus fruits made their way to the new countries. The ancient Romans and Greeks used it for its healing powers and it was the food for the rich. Lucky for us, lemons are accessible to everyone today and considering the health benefits and taste, it holds its value.
Benefits and Potential Side effect.
Lemons are the perfect immune system boosting food. It contains tons of vitamin C and bunch of minerals and antioxidants, which our bodies need. There are many benefits to consuming lemons. In fact some of the benefits are science backed and others just centuries old experiences. Either way, some of these benefits are; they promote heart health, weight loss, improved mood, colds and digestion. Some expert say it helps with protection from stroke, anemia and kidney stones. I personally can add lemons in my food all day long without any problems, but occasionally drinking lemon water will give me a heartburn. This has to do with how your body reacts to acid and alkaline. Strangely enough because the pH can vary in our bodies from day to day, so does my tolerance for lemon water.
Use In Cooking
I have noticed that when I use lemon in my cooking I can cut back on salt in my dishes. Lemon enhances the flavor in any simple meal. Citrus fruits are great companions to variety of fish, pork and beef dishes, salads, and even treats like muffins and cakes. I will use 2-3 lemons when I make a serving of hummus. And since I love hummus, that dish alone makes it more valuable for me to buy lemons in bulk. Food for thought is, the longer you cook lemon the more bitter the flavor becomes. It is much better to add the lemon juice few minutes before serving. In case the meal does become too sour or bitter, adding a pinch of sugar helps to neutralize the bitterness. One little trick I have discovered and used for years is that lemon helps with preventing discoloration of other produce. An example is apples. Sliced apples for a fruit platter is great, but the rapid brown discoloration is not very appetizing looking. I like to squeeze few drops of fresh lemon juice over the apples and then gently mix to cover every slice. This helps keeping the fresh look. The flavor is minimal and will be absorbed up by the sweetness of the apples. I use lemon a lot as garnish, especially when I am having a dinner party. Enhances the look of my meals, but it also gives the guest an opportunity to either add or leave out the extra kick of sour. I don’t use the zest as much as I would like to. I am very picky with chemicals and pesticides. Unfortunately regular non organic lemons are heavily sprayed with pesticides . If I am going to use the skin, I try to buy an organic lemon.
The medicinal use of lemon has been around since ancient times. One of its properties is that it can act as a topical disinfectant. I know that sounds incredibly painful to add lemon juice on a cut, but it does help to clean and disinfect the area. Lemon can be a good natural alternative to mouth wash for bad breath. I have lady friends who will occasionally use lemons for their natural skin care. They feel it helps against oily skin and acne. Another way lemon juice is great is mixing few drops with a little olive oil and rub on cracked or brittle nails. Some will use lemons as cleaning products around the house. I try to keep a small jar of a mix of baking soda with few drops of lemon juice on my counter, for fresh scent in the kitchen. Fresh lemon juice does wonder for removing odor from refrigerators and cutting boards. Lemon peel can be used outside to keep insect and other small animals such as cats and squirrels away. I am sure there are 101 ways for additional uses of fresh lemons. It’s been around for couple of thousand years, is available year around and is inexpensive. Buying lemons in bulk is no-brainer in my household. But occasionally I end up having more on my counter than I can use up fast enough, that is when…..
Makes Lemon Cubes
…..making frozen lemon cubes become the next best option. When my fresh lemons start getting old looking I will press the juice and fill my ice trays and stick them in the freezer. Once they are completely frozen you can pull them out and place all the cubes in a freezer bag. When you are in need of a lemon, just pull one cube out. If you are going to use it for a meal, just add the cube frozen. You can also let is thaw in the refrigerator in a small bowl for a short time and use the juice for all purposes. My experience has been that they store great in the freezer for 3-6 months. If all else fails, you can make lemonade. As I mentioned before, I like to make home made hummus and sometimes this is the easiest alternative for me if I am in a hurry. Each cube is about 1-2 Tablespoons, which generally is about 1/2-1 whole lemon. I can usually fill one tray of 14 cubes with 8-10 lemons.
Before you start wondering why I bother myself to make lemon cubes instead of just buying a bottle, let me explain my reasons. Unless you can find a very high (often expensive) quality bottled lemon juice, most often the regular ones they sell in the grocery stores contain Metabisulphites. A preservative which helps with retaining color and avoiding bacterial growth in foods. This does not necessary create health problems for most people, but my body does not like this additive. Metabisulphites is known to cause allergic reaction in some people. Beyond that reason, it’s a simple one for me – fresh lemons just look and taste better in my opinion. So start using your muscles (unless you are lucky enough to have a electrical citrus juicer) and pull out your ice trays and makes some lemon ice cubes. You’ll enjoy them every day without compromising taste or access for that last minute dish you thought of.