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Ingredient Spotlight: Lemon

A Brief History

Lemon is the small flowering fruit on a species of evergreen tree native to Northeast India, Myanmar, and China. Though it’s difficult to trace the origins of something as complicated as a fruit that has been crossbred over millennia, genomic studies can help. One such study revealed that the lemon is a hybrid between a sour orange and citron. 

Lemons entered Europe sometime around the second century AD during the reign of Ancient Rome, but were not widely accepted or cultivated. They made more of an impact in Persia and Iraq, when they were first recorded in literature in a 10th century Arabic treatise on farming. They were also used as purely ornamental plants in early Islamic gardens.

Later, after lemons had taken hold in Europe, Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1493. The ensuing Spanish conquest helped spread lemon seeds throughout the new world.


In 1747, the Scottish doctor James Lind’s experiments with scurvy revealed something fascinating about lemons. He found that adding lemon juice to their diets helped ease and even cure symptoms of scurvy. Scurvy, though science didn’t yet know this, is caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency. Lemon, it turns out, is high in vitamin C.

In fact, 100g of Lemon provides 64% of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C. It is effective as a tenderizer, garnish, and ingredient. Whole lemons can be used to make marmalade, lemon curd, and lemon liquor. Lemon slices and rind are used as a garnish for food and drinks. Lemon zest, which is produced by grating the outer rind of the fruit, is used to add flavor to baked goods, puddings, rice, and other dishes.

The lemon peel is used in the manufacture of petin, a polysaccharide used as a gelling agent and stabilizer in food and other products.

Why Lemon?

Sure, lemon can cure scurvy, but that’s not necessarily why we included it in our Fresh Start cold-pressed juice. It’s a modern staple, and it owes its popularity to the refreshing kick it provides in food and drink. As an ingredient, it’s a master of balance and an expert at cutting through flavors to provide a much-needed refresher. Give our Fresh Start cold-pressed juice a try!

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