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Seasonal Produce: Lemons

While fresh lemons are available year-round, their vibrant flavor says "spring is here". Even though it may be too chilly outside to truly enjoy an icy glass of lemonade, winter-weary taste buds instantly perk up when served a dessert, pasta dish, salad or muffin laced with lemony taste.

Lemons are too tart and acidic to eat out of hand, yet they are one of the most popular fruits and have many culinary uses. The juice and peel not only add their refreshing tartness to a host of sweet and savory dishes, but also enhance the flavors of other foods similar to salt.

Purchasing

  • Select firm, plump lemons that are heavy for their size.
  • The peels should be a bright yellow color and glossy with no hint of green, which indicates that they are unripe.
  • Choose smooth, thin-skinned lemons for juicing and bumpy, thick-skinned lemons for zesting.
  • Refrigerate lemons in a plastic food storage bag for up to 3 weeks, checking them periodically for signs of mold.
  • Wrap cut lemons tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Preparing

  • Scrub lemons thoroughly in warm, soapy water to remove surface wax and traces of insecticides. This is especially important if the peel is to be used.
  • To remove the peel only (the white pith underneath tastes bitter), use a box-shaped grater, a special citrus zesting tool, or a vegetable peeler.
  • To extract the maximum amount of juice, bring lemons to room temperature or warm them in a microwave oven on HIGH for about 30 seconds. Roll the lemons on the counter with firm pressure to break up the juice sacs before cutting them crosswise into halves.
  • Use a reamer or juicer to extract the juice, discarding any seeds.

Nutrition

  • Excellent source of vitamin C and very low in sodium.

Serving

  • Give grilled poultry and fish extra-zesty flavor by adding lemon juice to marinades.
  • Toss fresh-cut apples, bananas, pears and avocados with lemon juice or dip into a mixture of lemon juice and water to prevent them from turning brown in salads.
  • When whipping up a bowl of icing, replace some of the milk or water with lemon juice for a splash of citrus flavor.
  • Jazz up hot cooked rice by stirring in a bit of grated lemon peel just before serving.
  • Season cooked vegetables with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice instead of a sprinkle of salt.
  • Brighten the taste of creamy salads by adding a touch of grated lemon peel to KRAFT Mayo Real Mayonnaise before tossing with salad ingredients.
  • Add a bit of grated lemon peel to cake, muffin and quick bread batters for a burst of vibrant flavor.
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