All About Lemons: Not Just for Lemonade. Here are Recipes to Help You Harness The Power of Sour

“When life gives you lemons...add melted butter , toasted paprika and dip some lobster in it!”

― Stuart J. Scesney

lemons
lemons | Source

What Thoughts Fill Your Dreams?

What is the stuff of your dreams? What images fill your daytime reverie or invade your thoughts during sleep? Perhaps you drift to far-away places—strolling on white sand beaches glistening below azure skies; or maybe you envision hiking in wildflower-strewn alpine meadows beneath sapphire-blue glaciers. I have a friend whose thoughts drift to sailing across a tranquil sea—destination nowhere. My husband’s passion is pushing it to the limit on a switch-back road with the top down on the Miata.

I dream of food, or more specifically, I dream of cooking food.

So, here is a sampling of what I've been dreaming of:

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Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Light and delicate cream scones—triangle-shaped breakfast pastries studded with fresh blueberries, adorned with crunchy sugar crystals, and drizzled with a citrus glaze.

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Carb Diva's Velvety Lemon Chicken Soup

A luxurious creamy chicken soup with a refreshing hint of citrus.

  • 1 small lemon

  • 3 cups good quality chicken stock

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • garnish--2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley and 2 tablespoons fresh dill weed
  1. Cut two 2-inch strips of lemon peel (zest only--not the white pith which is bitter) from the lemon. Place in medium saucepan. Squeeze 1 teaspoon fresh juice from lemon and set aside. Add broth to the saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes. Remove zest.
  2. In a second saucepan heat the butter over low heat; when the foam subsides stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Gradually add warm stock and cream, whisking constantly, until soup is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in lemon juice; add garnish and salt and pepper to taste.

chicken piccata
chicken piccata | Source

Chicken Piccata

Tender, boneless chicken cutlets are dredged in flour and then quickly sautéed in butter until the interior is cooked to a moist perfection and the exterior is golden and crisp. A bright drizzle of butter caper sauce provides just the right balance of briny zing and lush creaminess.

lemon meringue pie
lemon meringue pie | Source

Lemon Meringue Pie

A luxuriant cream pie--the crust is buttery, flaky, crisp. The filling is a bright yellow hue, sweet, tart, and creamy. Billowy, cloud-like puffs of egg white meringue cover the filling. And as an added blessing the meringue has been gently kissed by flame to impart a subtle golden color and crisp texture to the soft egg-white blanket.

Are You Getting Hungry?

We’ve covered all of the bases--breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. And what is the common thread?

All of them are flavored with and enhanced by lemon. Is there any one food (other than bacon?) that appears in so many different types of foods and cuisines?

But Once Upon a Time...

...lemon was nothing more than a pretty face.

In researching this hub, I learned that the lemon plant is extremely adaptable and hybridizes easily—that’a good news (unless, of course, you are a horticulturalist or food historian). However, many think that the lemon was first cultivated in China. From there it gradually migrated westward from China, India and southeast Asia to the kingdom of the Medes and the Persian Empire.

Despite its versatility, which we recognize and embrace today, the lemon was nothing more than an ornamental in early Islamic gardens. The first clear evidence of the lemon tree in writing is a 10th century work by Qustus al-Rumi in his book on farming.

a ridiculously fragrant lemon blossom!
a ridiculously fragrant lemon blossom! | Source

Speaking of Farming

Are lemon trees easy to grow?

Well, it all depends on where you live. They have pretty strict standards. The lemon tree wants:

  • Climate zone - Lemon trees grow in tropical and subtropical humid regions. In the subtropics, citrus grows between sea level and 2,450 feet; in the tropics it grows at elevations below 5,250 feet. Lemon trees thrive in temperatures between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. (In the U.S. they are best suited to USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
  • Light requirements – Full sun
  • Soil – Must be well draining (lemon trees HATE having wet toes), pH 5.5 to 6.5
  • Spacing – Must be at least 12 feet apart and 12 feet from fences, buildings, or other large trees
  • Mulch – Mulch with organic compost 6 to 12 inches away from the trunk, just beyond the drip line
  • Water – Water regularly. New plants must be kept moist (but not soggy) until established. Then allow top 1 to 2 inches of soil dry between waterings.
  • Feeding – Lemon trees are heavy feeders. The first application of the year should be in March (after any chance of frost has passed but before the tree begins to bud out). Thereafter fertilize again in May and June. Don’t fertilize after August.
  • Winter protection – Wrap the trunk with several layers of cardboard and secure with duct tape. String outdoor lights on the branches.

map of where lemons grow
map of where lemons grow | Source

But What If You Don't Live in the Tropics?

You can grow lemon trees from seeds, in your house.

Types of Lemons (from recipetips.com)

Eureka Lemon - A knobby, thicker-skinned lemon than the Lisbon lemon. The Eureka lemon has a short neck at the stem end and contains a moderate amount of juice. This variety of lemon generally contains some seeds. The Eureka and Lisbon lemons are very similar in flavor, aroma and acidity.

Lisbon Lemon - A smoother, thinner-skinned lemon than the Eureka lemon. The Lisbon lemon does not have a definite neck at the stem end but the blossom end tapers to a slight point. This variety of lemon is generally seedless and contains more juice than the thicker-skinned Eureka, but otherwise the two varieties are similar in flavor, aroma and acidity.

Meyer Lemon - Meyer Lemon is a variety of lemon that is known for having a sweeter flavor, tasting mildly like a tangerine. It is often used as a seasoning for fish, providing a fresh aroma and a sweeter flavor than the standard lemon. This lemon is often used to season fish and seafood. When a Meyer lemon's flesh or juice is added to a dish, it adds a sweet and only slightly tart flavor. Meyer lemons are more difficult to find but as they increase in popularity they are becoming more available in specialty markets.

What You Will Need

SEEDS - Obviously, you must have some lemon seeds, but they are pretty easy to obtain--they are as close as the produce section of your market. Purchase an organic lemon, cut it in half, and remove the seeds. Don’t bother with any that look shriveled. Choose the plumpest seeds you can find.

POTTING SOIL – A bagged soil blend of peat, perlite, and vermiculite is best. Please don’t even THINK about using soil from the garden.

POT/CONTAINER – A pot that is 5 to 6 inches deep and a few inches in diameter is a good start for sprouting your seeds. However, the seedlings will need to be repotted. Mature lemon trees prefer a container that is wider than it is deep—10 to 16 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches wide is a good choice. Remember, all containers must have drainage holes.

LIGHT SOURCE - A grow light or lots of sun. Lemon trees need a plenty of light, especially when they are sprouting. They need 10 to 14 hours of light each day for survival.

And one more thing--unless you have an active hive of honey bees indoors, you will need to pollinate your tree by hand if you want fruit. Here's how:

How To Pretend That You Are A Bee

Collect a small amount of sticky pollen with a cotton swab from the anthers that are held up by filaments and surround the pistil in the center of the bloom. Identify the male anthers by looking for the pollen-covered oblong shapes held up on tall, thin filaments. A circle of these filaments, each supporting a separate anther, surrounds the female pistil in the middle of the flower. The single pistil on each flower is composed of the stigma at the very top, which is supported by the style, which is thicker than the filaments holding up the anthers.

Roll the cotton swab over the top of the pistil on another flower on the lemon tree to transfer the pollen and pollinate that bloom.

Repeat collecting pollen from the end of the fuzzy-looking anthers and putting it onto the central pistils of each flower on the tree until all the flowers have been pollinated.

Back to Reality

OK, so maybe you don't want to hand-pollinate lemon blossoms or grow a 6-foot tree in your house. I will admit that I don't have the time, patience, or space to do so. But lemon seeds are easy to sprout--easy enough that this could be a fun project to work on with a child in your life. Or maybe it will bring out the kid in you.

There is something enchanting, miraculous about seeing a plant emerge from a tiny seed.

© 2016 Carb Diva

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Comments 15 comments

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 6 months ago Author

Bravewarrior - Thanks for the kind words. Yes, the chicken piccata is a favorite in our house as well. The soup is easy and makes a wonderful appetizer leading up to a special meal. I made it last year for our anniversary. California lemons in Florida, and vice versa? You made me laugh.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 6 months ago from Central Florida

Your articles are always interesting and fun to read, Diva. Your chicken piccata looks delicious (love lemon caper sauce) and the creamy chicken soup is a cinch to make.

Fortunately, living in Florida lemons are aplenty, although I usually see California lemons in the grocery stores. I wonder if California carries Florida lemons in there's. Hmmmm.....


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago Author

RTalloni - Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked the scones recipe. Stay tuned. I'm working on a Hub for Mothers Day brunch and there will be at least one scone recipe.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 7 months ago from the short journey

Nothing is as refreshing as the smell of lemons, even the sprouts of the seeds. Your lemon blueberry scones recipe is wonderful!


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago Author

Venkat - That sounds wonderful. I will do a Google search and try it out. Thank you.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 7 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Carb, lemon pieces are mixed with salt and kept for three days in a tight closed jar. After that, the pieces are separated into a dry cloth or paper from the resulting juice and dried in sun for three days. The juice is also kept open to sun in the jar. Then, red pepper (chilli) powder is added to the juice and all dried pieces are mixed in it. They are stored in air-tight jars. Whenever you need pickle, a portion of it is taken into small containers and heated oil is added to it to mix thoroughly before consuming. It is used with either rice food or breakfast items and also for bread or parathas.


Haseena Firdousia profile image

Haseena Firdousia 7 months ago from India

Thank you for your nice information.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago Author

Bill - Yes, lemonade counts. Thank you for your continued support; your kind words mean a great deal to me. I hope you and Bev enjoy your movie (although as I write the sun is shining). Let me know if you see anything at the theater that is worth seeing.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago Author

Eric - Thank you for your kind words. I am happy to hear that you and your son (what, now he's 6? Someone must have recently had a birthday!) might try growing a lemon plant. Let me know how it goes.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago Author

Venkat - I have never heard of lemon pickles (much less tasted one). Are they at all like the preserved lemons that are common in Moroccan dishes?


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 7 months ago from Hyderabad, India

I love lemon pickles and some recipes with lemon. We prepare lemon rice, lemon added curries (vegetables) besides lemon juice. And, lemon pickles can be stored even for a full year. They are good for health too. Thanks for sharing many of the facts about lemon that are not known to me.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

I like lemonade....does that count for anything? LOL I may not be fond of lemons but I'm fond of your writing style. There are a whole bunch of food writers on HP who could benefit from reading your food articles.

We're going to a movie today. With the rain forecast it seems like the perfect activity. Have a great Sunday!


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Wow this was a great read. Your energy and zest for life shines through and is contagious. Lemons are very much a favorite food of mine. I am so much a fan that I peel and eat them like an orange. (much to my dentists chagrin) I think that tree growing project may be perfect for my 6 year old and I. Thank you much.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 7 months ago Author

Flourish - Thank you for stopping by. I love chicken piccata any time, but it just seems especially wonderful in the springtime. For some (odd) reason I associate lemon with Spring.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

That chicken piccata looks good. I enjoy using fresh lemons to make homemade lemonade or Italian ice in the summer. Thanks for another delicious hub.

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