Lemons: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 06.22 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Lemons are the distinctive yellow bitter tasting fruit that is part of the Citrus family. They are versatile in the kitchen and can be used to flavour a variety of seafood dishes, add freshness to a cocktail or give their distinctive flavour to a sweet dessert. Known as an aid for digestion and for their potential to assist in weight loss, lemons are naturally high in Vitamin C, Potassium and Copper.
Lemons are best harvested when they bear either a yellow green or full yellow colour. To pick a lemon, simply grasp it firmly in your hand, twist it around, tilt it and then snap it from the tree. Avoid pulling directly down on the fruit as this can “plug” it – leaving a hole at the top of the lemon, which will speed up the ripening process and allow bacteria to enter. In warm climates, lemon trees will bear fruit throughout the year so keep an eye on your tree to take advantage of the year round harvest.
When selecting a lemon at your local supermarket or grocery store choose lemons that are firm, yellow and weighty. A heavier lemon means more juice and less pith inside for you to use. A lighter lemon means the fruit will yield less juice. You can try squeezing the lemon gently to determine how juicy it is. If the lemon gives a little under your touch you can bet it contains more juice than a hard lemon. Keep an eye out for lemons with clear, shiny and thin skin – again this is a sign of lemon health and will mean more juice yield. A lemon with thicker skin or a lemon that is light will have a lower juice to pith ratio.
Depending on ripeness, lemons can last around 2 weeks at room temperature. If they start developing a white, blue or grey film on the skin this is a sign of rotting and they should be thrown out immediately. Refrigerated lemons placed in plastic bags will remain edible for around 6 weeks, while frozen lemons can last between 6 and 12 months. Although freezing your lemons will compromise texture, if you’re only intending on using lemons for their juice, this shouldn’t be a problem.
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