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Limes »« Kiwifruit



For a fruit that’s too sour for most people to eat, lemons are a useful addition to any pantry. They add an acidic sourness that enhances and counterbalances other flavours, savoury or sweet.

Different varieties of lemon have different acidity levels: the most common varieties, Lisbon and Eureka are relatively acidic, whereas Meyer, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin, is sweeter with lots of juice and is good in desserts.

Lemons grow well in many parts of New Zealand, and while they fruit best in the winter months, many varieties grow all year round.

Lemons should be used as often as you can as they’re a powerhouse of good stuff. They’re high in the all-important vitamin C, as well as flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties and may help to ward off cancer and heart disease. The membranes are a source of pectin, the fibre that helps jams set and can be helpful in controlling blood pressure.

Choose lemons – from the tree or at a supermarket – that are firm, glossy, and heavy for their size. Tinges of green indicate that the lemon isn’t quite ripe yet and it won’t have the best flavour, so leave those behind.

When storing lemons, you can do so either in the fridge or at room temperature, but check them often for signs of mould because it spreads and a mouldy lemon will decimate a fruit bowl if left.



Lemons originate in China and South East Asia, and cultivars of the fruit have existed since prehistoric times. Over the centuries, they spread into the Western world. While the ancient Greeks didn’t seem to catch on to citrus, it’s known that the Romans had the citron, a dry citrus fruit with a thick rind. In the second and third centuries AD, lemons were widely planted in Italy, and in Egypt and Palestine in the 10th century.

Columbus was probably responsible for bringing the lemon to the Americas; by 1587 they’d reached orchard scale in South America, and were growing well in Cuba.

The lemon was probably introduced to New Zealand in the 1850s, at a similar time to the sweet orange and the grapefruit.

Lemons are credited with banishing scurvy from sailing ships, a common problem for sailors associated with the lack of vitamin C. They were also prized for the same reason during the California goldrush of the 1850s, with people paying up to $1 for a single lemon – or a whopping US$25 in today’s money.


Lemons are probably one of the most versatile items in your pantry, useful not only in cooking, but in household cleaning as well.

Books and websites abound on the use of natural cleaning ingredients, and it’s worth hunting for tips because they’re often cheaper, just as effective, and more environmentally friendly than conventional cleaners. A couple of things you can try: if you have a stinky kitchen waste disposal, throw half a lemon down it while it’s running. And if your microwave needs a clean, cut a lemon in half, throw both halves into a bowl of water, and give it a blast for a few minutes. The lemony steam will both deodorise the microwave and loosen the muck.

Lemon tastes nice, too, of course. Next time you make a beef stew, add the juice and zest of a lemon when you pour in your stock – you’ll be surprised at the lift it gives to your stew. And when you roast a chicken, prick a lemon all over with a fork and place it into the cavity of the bird, along with some crushed garlic and thyme. A squeeze of lemon will stop fruit such as apples, bananas, and avocado from browning.


In early civilisation, lemons were used in witchcraft, as antidotes for poisons, and as antiseptics.

Lemon juice tastes great on your fish, but in the Middle Ages it was believed that it could actually dissolve any bones that had been left in the fish.

Ladies, got those yellow stains from your nail polish? Soak your nails in lemon juice for a few minutes and you’ll have nice clean nails again. And use a base coat next time.

Limes »« Kiwifruit


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