Lemon Quest

Lemons have taken up residence in my house. Suddenly, without forethought, they are on every shopping list. We are never lemonless for a full 24 hours. The other day, I surprised everyone by making a lemon cake, from scratch. It was easy (beautiful and delicious too, if I do say so…) but not something anyone, including myself, expects me to do. It’s the lemons, I tell ya. By some unconscious will, that seems to have my best interests at heart, they have become a fixture. This began about six months ago, but, just recently, I was struck with the desire to get to know lemons better. If they’re going to give themselves up for me, the least I can do is try to understand them.

Before making a concerted study, I knew, or thought I knew, that lemon is good for detoxifying, inside and out. I drink lemon juice squeezed in water all day long every day. I scrub my kitchen sink with the cut side of 1/2 a lemon, kosher salt and baking soda. My insides feel tingly fresh and my sink looks and smells the same.

Now, having read up on the subject, I know that one lemon contains about 1/2 the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, probably its strongest quality for health purposes. Other desirable and effective lemon elements include – citric acid, pectin, potassium, biflavonoids, limonene, calcium and magnesium.

You know I’m not a doctor, right? Nor am I a nutritionist. However, based on a critical survey of internet search results, I feel confident that regular and frequent lemon consumption can’t hurt and may very well help in the following categories:

Immune System
Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants out there, acting as a defensive wall against the free radicals that would do us harm.

Once metabolized, lemon has an alkalizing effect in the body, helping to maintain a healthy pH. Healthy pH is important for resisting disease, eliminating toxins, and discouraging the growth of bad bacteria.

Chronic inflammation is bad, very bad. Lemons help reduce inflammation in joints and throughout the body.

Lemon flushes the digestive track, promoting healthy, efficient digestion and elimination.

Internal cleansing
Lemon stimulates liver and kidney function, which detoxify the blood and whole body.

Heart health
Biflavanoids, together with potassium and vitamin C promote healthy blood pressure and circulation.

Mental health
Lemon scent reduces stress and promotes concentration and happy thoughts.

In case you’re wondering how any of this is relevant to the general theme of this blog, I’ll mention that lemon is everywhere in Middle Eastern and North African cooking. You can’t look at many such recipes without encountering preserved lemons. Much like the writer of the article linked below, I have always skipped over recipes that include preserved lemon. However, now that I am in conscious embrace with the lemon, I have a jar of them preserving in my kitchen. In a month or so, when they are ready, perhaps I’ll share a preserved-lemon-containing recipe on the blog.

In the meantime, check out this article, which includes instructions for preserving lemons and several recipes.

And here’s the recipe for the lemon cake I mentioned at the top. I made it in a bundt pan rather than the 2 loaf pans called for and it was perfect.