I love lemons!
I can’t really remember when that happened because as I child I couldn’t be tricked into eating anything lemon flavored. I think it was in college that my opinion changed. We drank copious amounts of lemon water before formals. Someone had heard that it helped prevent bloating and we all wanted to fit into our dresses and look great. Shortly after that I began to appreciate lemon zest in my blueberry muffins and before I knew it I was in love.
Lemons in History
There are so many recipes to be found that highlight the lemon. This is probably because it has been part of our diet for almost 3,000 years. The first time we see it written about was in an Arabic gardening manual in the 10th century B.C. They first traveled to the United States with Christopher Columbus, but just as seeds.
The fruit proved itself by traveling with later ocean-going explorers when they carried them to prevent scurvy. Madame Grieve tells us in her A Modern Herbal that in the early 19th century English law stipulated that there had to be enough lemons or limes aboard a ship to provide each shipman with one ounce of juice for every day past 10 days they were at sea.
The lemon has a decidedly important place in the movement of humans around the world. Until we were using it for ornamental and medicinal uses in a larger fashion, voyages by ship that lasted longer than the ship’s stores of fresh food were extremely dangerous. This amazing plant made itself indispensable and guaranteed that its seeds would move from the Asian continent on which they originated. They have since been planted in almost every subtropical region since.
Most of the lemons we eat here in the United States come from California with a small amount coming from Italy. Lemons are used for more than just food and medicine. There are even entire books written about the cleaning power of these amazing fruits.
8 Health Benefits of Lemons
Here are some of the reasons you might want to keep some lemons around for your health:
- Dissolves uric acid and other poisons in the blood making it an important daily supplement for arthritis and gout.
- Because of its calcium content, it has been used successfully to prevent rickets, support healthy bones, and strengthen teeth.
- Lemons are high in potassium. They support heart and circulatory health and ultimately protect the health of the brain and nervous system.
- Fresh lemon juice cut half and half with water can be used to heal up a sore throat.
- A teaspoon of lemon juice in a half cup of water is helpful to soothe heartburn.
- Fresh lemon juice (one to two ounces) added to very cold water and drank three to four times daily has been used to stop excessive bleeding such as in the case of an ulcer or heavy menstruation.
- A lemon tonic taken with garlic is a perfect morning tonic to support a healthy liver. In traditional diets the world over, some form of this morning tonic is still used today.
- Hot lemon juice cut with water, like that found in a traditional hot toddy, is very effective in shortening a cold or flu.
An Important Part of the Lemon
Fresh lemon juice and lemon peel contains Vitamin C plus bioflavonoids. This is a good reason to eat the white part between the peel and the fruit, called the pith. Most avoid this because it is considered to be bitter, but it should be consumed with the fruit whenever possible. One easy way to do this is to candy the peels, pith and all, and use them as lemon drop candies especially during cold and flu season. These are boiled less than you would for candied peels meant for decoration and are therefore a little more chewy and a bit more bitter. This lessens the loss of Vitamin C. The syrup protects it from further oxidation.
Candied Natural Cold Chews
- 8 large lemons
- 2 cups sugar (find organic cane sugar here)
- 2 cups filtered water (find the best water filtration systems here)
- Peel the lemons and cut the peel with the pith into thin strips.
- Warm the sugar and water until blended into a syrup.
- Add the lemon strips and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes.
- Remove the strips with a slotted spoon and place on parchment paper to cool. Leave out until the sugar has crystallized. Store and use within the next 2 weeks.
Do you incorporate lemons into your diet? How are you eating them? Share in the comments section!