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Mary's Modern Homemaking
Bright Little Lemons
There is an old saying: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I suppose this is fine if you like lemonade. But there is so much more to this little citrus fruit than meets the eye.
The lemon is a little sour fruit that is packed with all things good for you. In fact of all the foods we eat, the lemon has the most vitamin C. All you have to do is figure out how to make the most of it. But it is so sour, how on earth could one ever eat it?
There are two major varieties known as Lisbon and Eureka. They are so similar that even the experts have a hard time telling them apart. As consumers, we know them better as supermarket lemons: pale in color, thick-skinned, and not so juicy.
Then there is the Meyer lemon, a cross between an orange (possibly mandarin) and a lemon, which was discovered in China by Frank Meyer. The skins range from a soft pale yellow to a strong yellow orange and are very thin. Because of their delicacy they don't travel well; their peak season is from December to May. The Meyer is loaded with juice, which is sweeter and less acidic than other lemons.
When I was young and felt a sore throat coming on, my mom made hot tea with one teaspoon lemon juice and one teaspoon honey. I drank it up, and since it was naturally good for me, there was no limit on how much I could have.
To stay healthy, it is recommended that a person should drink 46 ounces of fresh lemon juice daily. If you have a cold or flu, more is better. Drinking lemon juice can help cool fevers. Studies have shown that lemons and other citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants that may be beneficial in promoting a healthy heart. Also, consuming lemons may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.
You can also use lemons in everyday baking: lemon meringue pie, cake, and pudding . . . They are also good on chicken and fish, and perfect for adding flavor to salads without all that oil. A summertime favorite, of course, is lemonade. Try to buy lemons that are 100 percent organically grown so you can use the entire lemon, from zest to juice.
But there are many other ways to use this little fruit.
Lemons can also be used to disinfect kitchen surfaces and hands. Simply cut a lemon in half and rub where needed. This is a great tip to keep in mind when you are staying somewhere where water is scarce.
Lemon oil makes a perfect bug deterrent. Whether you are bothered by fruit flies, houseflies, or fleas, making a simple lemon spray will repel these little pests.
Keep pests away
To make a safe spray for repelling fleas off your cat or dog you'll need:
Cut the lemon into a few slices and put them in a pan. Add the water, cover, and bring to a full boil. Boil five minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, overnight to bring out all the lemon oils. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Use on your cat or dog, being sure not to spray eyes, mouth, or nose. Brush or comb through pet's hair or fur.
You can also use this spray along baseboards to help keep creepy crawlers away, including ants. Spray kitchen garbage cans or compost bins to help keep fruit flies at bay.
Or instead of using the spray, take one lemon and poke whole cloves in it and place it in your home where you are having insect problems. You can hang it near doors by placing it in old stockings or netting. Or simply keep a bowl filled with fresh fruit. Just be sure to check it often as it can spoil and become moldy.
There are many ways to preserve lemons. Zest a lemon and put the pieces into a small plastic snack bag. (The zest of one lemon equals 1 teaspoon.)
Then squeeze out the juice of the zested lemon and freeze in an ice cube tray. (Two small cubes equals one whole lemon.)
Some say you can freeze a whole lemon. I cannot vouch for that as I have never tried it. I do know from experience that you can freeze lemon slices to use later in water, in hot or cold tea, and for baking fish or chicken.
Anything that is left just toss into your compost pile.
Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.
Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2013.