…hoard them! Possibly the most versatile ingredient in the kitchen, the virtues of the lemon extend beyond culinary use. The Ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a whole range of poisons.
I use lemons on a daily basis and always have at least half a dozen to hand. I’m a bit of a lemon fiend. Unsurprisingly, neither Hugo nor the hens are fans and make a big show of their distaste with comical grimaces and much foot-stamping. I have actually seen Hugo growl menacingly at a stray lemon slice in his bowl.
Although acid in taste, lemon juice has an extremely alkalising effect on the body. Rich in vitamin C, it also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotenes, vitamin B5 and soluble fibre such as pectin. It has an abundance of flavonoids which, working synergistically with vitamins, have a powerful antioxidant effect. The main flavonoids to be found in lemons are hesperdin, rutin and quercetin. These are extremely beneficial to the blood vessels and have an anti-allergy action.
Lemon juice will even decalcify your cookware and work as an insect-repellant! Lemons have a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effect and also increase bile secretion. They help to drain and detoxify the liver and kidneys and cleanse the whole body. I think you’ll quickly come to appreciate the value in drinking the juice of a freshly-squeezed lemon first thing in the morning.
Squeezing lemon into your food lowers the overall glycemic index of the meal. It is a significant digestive aid – citric acid stimulates the secretion of gastric enzymes. In cases of over-indulgence and even food-poisoning its alkalising, antibacterial powers are of great help.
From acne and allergies to intestinal worms and verrucas, the not-so-humble lemon has a multitude of medicinal uses, but it is in the kitchen that the lemon really comes into its own. It may be used in the preparation of sweet or savoury, cooked or raw and hot or cold dishes. Use it in salad dressings as a delicious and healthy alternative to vinegar and in marinades for meat or fish.
Gremolata, an Italian creation, is simply a mixture of equal parts lemon zest, parsley and garlic. It is a tangy, versatile topping that can be added to just about any savoury dish to enhance its flavour. Try selling that to your dog.
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