I’m convinced the gods must have been wanting for a little sun when they invented the lemon. Lemons evoke sunshine in every way—from their cheery, yellow complexion and squeaky-clean scent to the fresh, bright flavor they impart to any dish.
Though lemons are available at the supermarket year-round, their peak season comes at the perfect time of year, in winter, when most of us are suffering from too many gray days in a row. That’s when I’m craving them most—when other fresh produce is harder to come by and I need a hit of vitamin C. (Vitamin C is well known for helping to protect you from infection and heal wounds and cuts. It may also keep skin smooth, improve heart health and even help reduce risk of cancer and stroke.)
I always tend to keep a few lemons in the produce drawer so I have them on hand for salad dressings, soups and stir-fries. You never know when a lemon might come in handy. Here are some of EatingWell editors’ favorite uses for lemons—beyond cooking. What would you add to the list?
to jazz up your glass of water, cocktail or iced tea. Freeze lemon juice in an ice tray with your favorite fruit and herb combination.
to season rice, meat and vegetables. Use a Microplane grater to remove the zest from a lemon. Spread the zest out on a plate and let dry for 2 to 3 days. Once dry, use your fingers to crumble the zest into a powder; store in an airtight container.
by squirting a little lemon juice on them. The acidity of the lemon juice helps prevent the fruit from oxidizing.
Candying lemon zest turns it into a tasty treat. Use it to garnish your morning yogurt, add flavor to tea or even freshen breath.
by adding lemon juice and honey to hot water or tea. The vitamin C from the lemon may help boost your immune system and the hot drink may reduce congestion.
Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are most potent when tea is freshly brewed. Give your tea a healthy boost by adding lemon juice to your brew. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon help preserve the flavonoids.
Rub half a lemon on the surface, leave it for 15 minutes, rinse and repeat as necessary.