A very sour citrus fruit similar to limes with the same refreshing smell and tart flavor, but generally larger. The whole fruit can be used (juice, skin, and less often the pulp). Lemon trees can produce 1,000 - 2,000 fruits per year. The main types of lemons produced in the United States are the Eureka, Lisbon, Genoa, Sicily, Belair, and the Villafranca. Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and either a mandarin or an orange, have smooth yellow-orange skins and are sweeter than Eurekas. Zest is the perfumy outermost skin layer which is removed with the aid of a zester, paring knife or vegetable peeler. Only the yellow portion of the skin (not the white pith) is considered the zest. The aromatic oils in the zest are what add so much flavor to food. Lemon juice is also sprinkled on cut fruit, prevent oxidation, which darkens fruit, making it less appetizing.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Lemons are bright yellow and oval in shape with a pronounced bulge at the blossom end. They can range in size from a large egg to a small grapefruit. Look for smooth, brightly colored skin (green signals underripeness), and lemons that are heavy for their size.
How to store: Can keep for 2-3 weeks in plastic in the refrigerator. Once the juice is squeezed there is a quick loss of vitamin C.
Matches well with: almonds, cardamom, chicken, chocolate, currants, desserts, fish, honey, lime, oysters, poppy seeds, raspberries, shellfish, strawberries, veal
Substitutions: 2-3 tbsp juice + 2 tsp grated rind = 1 lemon; 1/2 tsp vinegar = 1/2 tsp lemon juice; 1 tsp lemon zest = 1/2 tsp dried lemon peel = 1 tsp lemon marmalade = 1 tsp lime zest = 1 tsp orange zest = 1/2 tsp lemon extract