What is a lemon? Facts, tips and kitchen hacks with lemons
What would summer be without a glass of ice cold, freshly squeezes lemonade, or winter without a hot mug of lemon and honey? It's a zesty favourite around the world, so we're here with tricks to get the most out of your lemons, including how to choose lemons, how to store lemons and must-know lemony kitchen hacks to make your life easy.
What is a lemon?
Lemons are an oval shaped citrus with a thick, bright yellow skin and fragrant acidic juice. Its distinctive sour juice is the key ingredient in a vast array of drinks, foods, sauces and desserts.
The most popular varieties of lemons in Australia are Eureka, Lisbon and Meyer.
Eureka and Lisbon lemons are the quinessential oval lemon found in the supermarket. Meyer lemons are less commonly available, they appear rounder and have smoother skin. The fruit is less acidic, slightly sweeter and more floral than Eureka and Lisbon lemons.
Available for most of the year, Australian lemons are mostly grown commercially in Victoria and South Australia, though a slight reduction in lemon production over summer makes them pricier.
How to choose lemons
- When choosing lemons, look for bright coloured lemons that have a smooth skin and feel heavy for their size.
- A juicy lemon will be firm, but with a bit of give when squeezed gently. Avoid hard lemons.
- Avoid pale coloured old lemons or under ripe lemons which will have a tinge of green on the skin.
- Medium to large lemons are best for juicing, smaller lemons are better for serving as wedges.
How to store lemons
Lemons can be stored at room temperature on the counter out of direct sunlight for one week.
Lemons don’t need to be refrigerated, but they will keep for longer. To keep lemons fresh for up to 2-3 weeks, place inside a zip lock bag or container and keep in the crisper of your refrigerator.
Lemon tips and kitchen hacks
- How many lemons are in 1 cup of juice: 5 medium lemons should yield about 1 cup of lemon juice.
Click here to find out how to get the most juice out of your lemons.
Zesty dressings: Fresh lemon juice is a great replacement for vinegar in most recipes such as salad dressings, marinades and sauces.
Tenderise meat: The citric acid in lemons make it ideal for tenderising meat, try adding some lemon juice to your marinade.
Ultra tender pastry: Try switching water for lemon juice in your shortcrust pastry. Your pastry will be tender and short.
Prevent browning: Rub lemon juice over the cut side of apples, avocados and artichokes to prevent them from oxidising and turning brown.
- Salad saver: Soak wilted salad leaves in a large bowl of cold water that has had a few teaspoons of lemon juice for 30 minutes and watch them perk up!
- Clean your microwave: Squeeze some lemon juice in a bowl with water, add the lemon skin and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until it boils. Let cool for 5 minutes with the door closed, then wipe down with a clean cloth.
- Natural cleaner: Give your chopping boards and sink a deep clean with a tablespoon of salt and half a lemon. Put salt on the board or sink, then rub vigorously with the cut side of the lemon, squeezing to release juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes then rinse.
- Zest in a hurry: Lemon zest can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months. If you have extra time, you’re your lemons before using it and place the zest in a zip lock bag so you always have zest on hand.
Click here to learn how to zest lemons.