Lemon for health, lemon for beauty
THE LEMON always graces the fridge, be it fresh or pickled. And not unoften, they are used as beauty aids too. The lemon is thoroughly Indian. They originated in Asian countries such as India and Malaysia.
There are very interesting stories about the lemon. Alexander introduced the thirst quenching lemon to Europe and the Middle East during the third century. Later Arab traders popularised the fruit in other tropical countries. Now lemons are cultivated world wide.
Lemons or lime fall into the citrus fruits group. The scientific name for lemon is citrus limon. In India it is also known as limbu, bara nimbu, nyomb, naranga, yelumichai payam etc.
The lemon plant is a short, thorny shrub or bush and requires tropical climate for its optimal growth. The rind is dark green and on ripening turns yellow. The fruit is juicy with few seeds and is very aromatic. The juicy pale yellow acid flesh never fails to awaken and refresh the taste buds due to its mouth watering acid sweet taste. It is a soothing drink in summer as well as in disease conditions such as fever, diarrhoea etc. Lime is used as an appetiser and antiscorbutic other than cookery use.
It is also used in cosmetics therapy. Scurvy is a disease due to the deficiency of Vitamin C and characterised by body aches, bleeding gums etc. Long ago, there was a law making it mandatory for English sailors to carry lemon on their long voyages to protect them from scurvy. Due to this relationship between lime and this disorder they used to refer this condition as `limey.'#Uses of lemon
Every part of the lemon is used in sweets or cooking delicious dishes. From the rind to the juice it is used. Traditionally a drink of lemon juice, hot water and a teaspoon of honey have been used as a remedy for colds, obesity, and constipation. Lemon juice contains oil, which studies show, help relieve rheumatism by stimulating the liver to expel toxins from the body. Lemons are good for oral diseases, throat disorders, fevers, cold, beauty aid, stomach problems, obesity etc.
A squeeze over grilled fish or wedges are used and traditionally served as an accompaniment to fish dishes or salad dressing. Lemon slices are a popular addition to tea and cold drinks. Lemons give a wonderful flavour to sweet dishes. They can be used for jellies, jam, lemon curd, or cheeses, mousses, ice cream, souffles etc.
Lemon peels contain pectin, which helps to set jams and jellies. Strips of peel can be added to candies to serve with coffee or add to cakes and puddings.
It is widely used in pickle and sherbets. It is used as a strain remover due its bleaching property. Due to their high Vitamin C content it prevents oxidation, so lemon juice is often brushed over cut fruit or white vegetables to stop them from turning brown.
Lemon juice is a good base for oral electrolyte solution for the treatment of dehydration and diarrhoea. A few drops of lemon juice added to a glass of home made ORS will provide adequate amount of potassium apart from other minerals. Since lemons are a good source of Vitamin C they are beneficial for building up resistance against infection.
Lemons can be stored and transported to long distance, as they do not get damaged easily. They can be stored at room temperature for weeks and for months under refrigeration. While buying, choose a lemon that is firm and heavy for their size. Lemon becomes pale as they over ripen and lose some juiciness and acidity. Buy deep yellow fruit with unblemished skin and avoid light yellow fruit.
With all the advantages it has some disadvantages. Citrus fruits have been linked with migraine and some people are allergic to them.
It is implicated as a triggering factor in a few asthmatics. Since lemons are highly acidic it can destroy tooth enamel.