Lemon facts for kids

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Lemon
Citrus limon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Citrus
Species: C. limon
Binomial name
Citrus limon
(L.) Burm.f.
Lemon and Lime output in 2012

The lemon is a small tree (Citrus limon) that is green even in the winter. It came from Asia, and is also the name of the tree's oval-shaped yellow fruit. The fruit is used for cooking and other things in the world – usually for its juice.

People do not know for sure where lemons have come from. However, most people think that lemons first grew in India, northern Burma, and China. The lemon is the common name for Citrus limon. A lemon is a yellow citrus fruit. It is related to the orange. Lemon juice is about 5% citric acid, and has a pH of 2 to 3. Lemon plants vary in size yet stay generally small. The tallest height they can get is about 6 meters tall.

Lemons taste sour. The juice, zest, and pulp are often used in cooking, often on fish and other meat for better taste. Lemon is also used to flavour drinks, such as lemonade or soft drinks.

History

Lemon-Whole-Split
Lemon external surface and cross-section

The origin of the lemon is unknown, though lemons are thought to have first grown in Assam (a region in northeast India), northern Burma or China. A genomic study of the lemon indicated it was a hybrid between bitter orange (sour orange) and citron.

Lemons entered Europe near southern Italy no later than the second century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. They were later introduced to Persia and then to Iraq and Egypt around 700 AD. The lemon was first recorded in literature in a 10th-century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens. It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between 1000 and 1150.

The first substantial cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century. The lemon was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola on his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as an ornamental plant and for medicine. In the 19th century, lemons were increasingly planted in Florida and California.

In 1747, James Lind's experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding lemon juice to their diets, though vitamin C was not yet known.

The origin of the word "lemon" may be Middle Eastern. The word draws from the Old French limon, then Italian limone, from the Arabic laymūn or līmūn, and from the Persian līmūn, a generic term for citrus fruit, which is a cognate of Sanskrit (nimbū, “lime”).

Varieties

P2101990,lemon
Lemons in growth

The 'Bonnie Brae' is oblong, smooth, thin-skinned, and seedless, mostly grown in San Diego County, USA.

The 'Eureka' grows year-round and abundantly. This is the common supermarket lemon, also known as 'Four Seasons' (Quatre Saisons) because of its ability to produce fruit and flowers together throughout the year. This variety is also available as a plant to domestic customers. There is also a pink-fleshed Eureka lemon, with a green and yellow variegated outer skin.

The 'Femminello St. Teresa', or 'Sorrento' is native to Italy. This fruit's zest is high in lemon oils. It is the variety traditionally used in the making of limoncello.

The 'Yen Ben' is an Australasian cultivar.

Nutritional value and phytochemicals

Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, providing 64% of the Daily Value in a 100 g serving (table). Other essential nutrients, however, have insignificant content (table).

Lemons contain numerous phytochemicals, including polyphenols, terpenes, and tannins. Lemon juice contains slightly more citric acid than lime juice (about 47 g/l), nearly twice the citric acid of grapefruit juice, and about five times the amount of citric acid found in orange juice.

Culinary uses

Lemon juice, rind, and peel are used in a wide variety of foods and drinks. The whole lemon is used to make marmalade, lemon curd and lemon liqueur. Lemon slices and lemon rind are used as a garnish for food and drinks. Lemon zest, the grated outer rind of the fruit, is used to add flavor to baked goods, puddings, rice, and other dishes.

Juice

Lemon juice is used to make lemonade, soft drinks, and cocktails. It is used in marinades for fish, where its acid neutralizes amines in fish by converting them into nonvolatile ammonium salts, and meat, where the acid partially hydrolyzes tough collagen fibers, tenderizing the meat, but the low pH denatures the proteins, causing them to dry out when cooked. Lemon juice is frequently used in the United Kingdom to add to pancakes, especially on Shrove Tuesday.

Lemon juice is also used as a short-term preservative on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced (enzymatic browning), such as apples, bananas, and avocados, where its acid denatures the enzymes.

Peel

In Morocco, lemons are preserved in jars or barrels of salt. The salt penetrates the peel and rind, softening them, and curing them so that they last almost indefinitely. The preserved lemon is used in a wide variety of dishes. Preserved lemons can also be found in Sicilian, Italian, Greek, and French dishes.

Leaves

The leaves of the lemon tree are used to make a tea and for preparing cooked meats and seafoods.

Other uses

Industrial

Lemons were the primary commercial source of citric acid before the development of fermentation-based processes.

As a cleaning agent

The juice of the lemon may be used for cleaning. A halved lemon dipped in salt or baking powder is used to brighten copper cookware. The acid dissolves the tarnish and the abrasives assist the cleaning. As a sanitary kitchen deodorizer the juice can deodorize, remove grease, bleach stains, and disinfect; when mixed with baking soda, it removes stains from plastic food storage containers. The oil of the lemon's peel also has various uses. It is used as a wood cleaner and polish, where its solvent property is employed to dissolve old wax, fingerprints, and grime. Lemon oil and orange oil are also used as a nontoxic insecticide treatment.

A halved lemon is used as a finger moistener for those counting large amounts of bills, such as tellers and cashiers.

Medicinal

Lemon oil may be used in aromatherapy. Lemon oil aroma does not influence the human immune system, but may contribute to relaxation.

Other

One educational science experiment involves attaching electrodes to a lemon and using it as a battery to produce electricity. Although very low power, several lemon batteries can power a small digital watch. These experiments also work with other fruits and vegetables.

Lemon juice may be used as a simple invisible ink, developed by heat.

Images for kids


Lemon Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.