When Life Gives You Lemons… Be Versatile


You know the old saying, ‘When life gives you lemons make lemonade’? Well, I think that when life gives you lemons you should use them in as many ways as you can.

Now, I understand that the saying is about making something positive out of a negative, but lemons are the most versatile fruit I know and there’s so much more to lemons than lemonade.

Health Properties of Lemons

Lemons aren’t classed as a superfood, but in my opinion they should be. They contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, carotene (pro-vitamin A) and are rich in vitamin C as well being both anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

Lemons also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties and lemon juice can be used to treat sunburn and skin rashes.

How to Choose Lemons

When it comes to choosing lemons I always look for lemons that feel fairly pliable and have a thin skin as these tend to be juicier. The thicker and harder the skin, the less juicy and tasty the lemon.

It also helps to keep lemons at room temperature as this enables you to squeeze more juice out the lemon.

On an average day, I probably use between one and two lemons in a variety of ways:

Lemon in Hot Water

No morning would be complete without half a glass of warm water and the juice of a quarter lemon. Lemon juice in warm water is good for the liver and stimulates the digestive system. If nothing else, the bitter taste is as effective in waking me up as a strong dose of caffeine.

Lemon Juice for Nausea

If I’m feeling a bit nauseous in the morning, because I ate too late and didn’t digest my dinner properly or I ate something that was too oily the night before, I up the lemon juice content to half a lemon and it instantly removes the nausea.

Slice of Lemon in Water

During the day I keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and putting a slice of lemon in each glass of water. Some of the vitamin C in the lemon will be absorbed and the main thing is that it adds zest to ordinary tap water making it taste delicious.

Cleaning with Lemon

Once I’ve finished with a slice of lemon, instead of throwing it away I first use it to clean out the tea stains in mugs. Sometimes dishwashing liquid and a bit of elbow grease isn’t enough to get rid of tea stains, but rubbing with a slice of lemon does the trick every time as lemon juice has wonderful bleaching properties.

Lemon Salad Dressing

If I’m having a salad I usually make a salad dressing from the juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a generous drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. You won’t believe how tasty it is, plus it doesn’t contain any sugar which you normally find in shop-bought salad dressings.

Stop Fruits Oxidising with Lemon

If I’m making a salad for myself and only using half an avocado pear, I sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice on the half that I’m going to save to prevent it from browning and becoming discoloured. You can also do this with apples, pears and other fruits to prevent them from oxidising.

Chicken and Fish in Lemon and Butter Sauce

Tonight I’m making lemon chicken for dinner. This entails squeezing the juice of one lemon over chicken pieces, adding a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic salt and pepper to taste and a couple knobs of butter.

I rest the leftover lemon quarters between the chicken pieces so that the flavour from the rind can permeate the chicken, cover with tin foil and bake in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for one and a half hours. The lemon juice acts as a meat tenderiser and the chicken emerges tender and succulent and very flavourful. Try it – it’s delicious.

I use a similar approach to cooking white fish such as cod, haddock and plaice. In a frying pan I simmer the fish for about 20 minutes in the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon, a bit of olive oil and a large knob of butter and replenish the liquid with hot water from the kettle to prevent it from drying out and burning. To this I sometimes add a teaspoon of capers and/or a few chopped sun dried tomatoes and freshly ground black pepper.

Medicinal Uses of Lemon

Whenever I have a cold or the flu, I like to comfort myself in the evening by drinking a hot toddy. This is made up of the juice of a quarter lemon, a teaspoon of honey and a dash of whiskey and topped up with boiling water.

Of course, the whiskey is optional as the hot lemon and honey alone is very soothing. The vitamin C in the lemon is good to strengthen the immune system and the anti-bacterial properties are particularly good for sore throats.

Of course, there are many other uses of lemon that I haven’t mentioned here, but these are the ways in which I use lemon on a daily basis. As far as I’m concerned, the more lemons life gives me, the better!

If you’ve found lemons useful in any way, I’d love to hear about it so please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Photo: Thanks to CocteauBoy on Flickr.com

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