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Lemon (Citrus limon [L.] Burm.)

Synonyms

botanicalCitrus medica ssp. limonum
pharmaceuticalPericarpium Citri
AlbanianLimoni
Amharicሊሞን, ሎሚ
Limone, Lomi
Arabicليمون
لَيْمُون
Lemon, Limon
ArmenianԿիտրոն, Կիտրոնախոտ
Gidron, Gidronakhod, Kitron, Kitronaxot
AzeriLimon
Лимон
BelarusianЛімон
Limon
Bengaliলেবু, নেবু, লেমন
Lebu, Nebu, Lemon
BretonSuraval, Sitroñs, Sedratez (Citrus medica)
BulgarianЛимон
Limon
BurmeseShauktakera
CatalanLlimonera
Chinese
(Cantonese)
檸檬 [nìhng mùng]
Nihng mung
Chinese
(Mandarin)
檸檬 [níng méng]
Ning meng
CroatianLimun
CzechCitrón
DanishCitron
Dhivehiދޯޅަނބު
Dhoalhan'bu
DutchCitroen
EsperantoCitrono
EstonianHarilik sidrunipuu
Farsiلیمو خاگی, لیمو, لیمو ترش
Limou khagi, Limou, Limoo, Limu taresh
FinnishSitruuna
FrenchCitron
FrisianSitroen
GaelicLiomaid
GalicianFollas de Lima Cafre
GaroKakji
Georgianლიმონი
Limoni
GermanZitrone
GreekΛεμόνι
Lemoni
Gujaratiલીંબુ
Limbu
Hebrewלימון
לִימוֹן
Limon
Hindiलीमू
Limu
HungarianCitrom
IcelandicSítróna
IndonesianJeruk (nipis)
IrishLíomóid
ItalianLimone
Japanese檸檬
れもん
レモン
Remon
Kannadaಗಜಲಿಂಬೆ
Gajalimbe
KazakhЛимон
Lïmon
Korean레몬
Remon
Laoໝາກນາວໃຫຍ່, ໝາກນາວສີ
Mak nao nyai, Mak nao si (Citrus medica)
LatinLimo
LatvianCitrons
LithuanianCitrinos, Tikrasis citrinmedis
MacedonianЛимун
Limun
MalayLimau
Malayalamജംബീരഫലം
Gilam, Jambira-phalam
MalteseLumi
Manipuri (Meitei-Lon)হৈজাঙ
ꯍꯩꯖꯥꯡ
Heijang
Marathiलिंबू
Limbu
MizoSer
MongolianНимбег
Nimbeg
Naga (Khezha)Kekhro Methiche
Naga (Mao)Chompra
Nepaliकागती
Kagati
Newari
(Nepalbhasa)
झम्सी
Jhamsi (Citrus limon var. jambhiri)
Oriyaଲେମ୍ବୁ
Lembu
PolishCytryna
PortugueseLimão
Punjabiਨਿੰਬੂ
Nimbu, Bijauri, Galgal
RomanianLămâi (tree), Lămâie (fruit)
RussianЛимон
Limon
SanskritRuchaka, Nimbaka, Vijapura
SerbianЛимун
Limun
Sinhalaරට දෙහි, ලෙමන්
Sedaran, Rata dehi, Leman
SlovakCitrónovník, Citróny, Citrón
SlovenianLimona
SpanishLimón
SwahiliLimau
SwedishCitron
TajikЛимӯ
Limu
Tamilஎலுமிச்சம், சீதளை
Elumicham, Sidalai
Teluguనిమ్మపండు
Nimmapandu
Thaiมะนาวฝรั่ง
Manao farang, Ma nao leung, Som saa
Tibetanགམ་བུ་ར་
Gambura
Tigrinyaለሚን
Lemin
TurkishLimon
TurkmenLimon
Лимон
UkrainianЛимон
Lymon
Urduلیموﮞ, نیمبو
Limun, Nimbu
UzbekLimon
Лимон
VietnameseChanh tây, Nịnh mông
Chanh tay, Ninh mong
WelshLemwn
Yiddishלימענע, ציטרין, זיצטרין
Limene, Tsitrin, Zitstrin
Synonyms for citron (Citrus medica L.)

Arabicأترج, أترنج, كباد
أُتْرُجّ, أُتْرُنْج, كَبَّاد
Utrujj, Utrunj, Kabbad
Aramaicܒܝܠܒܘܫ, ܛܪܘܓ, ܛܪܘܓܐ, ܩܛܪܝܢ, ܐܬܪܘܓ
Bilbush, Trug, Trugga, Qitrin, Etroh
Chinese
(Mandarin)
佛手柑 [fó shǒu gān]
Gou yuan, Xiang yuan, Zhi qiao; Fo shou gan (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylus)
Copticⲕⲓⲧⲣⲓ, ϭⲓⲧⲣⲉ
Kitri, Qitre
CroatianČetrun
DutchMuskuscitroen
EstonianNäsaviljaline sidrunipuu, Näsasidrun
FinnishSukaatti
FrenchCédrat, Poncire commun
FrisianSinessappel
GermanZedrate, Zitronatzitrone
GreekΚίτρο, Κιτρολέμονο; Κιτριά
Kitro, Kitrolemono; Kitria (tree)
Greek (Old)Κεδρομῆλον, Κίτριον
Kedromelon, Kitrion
Hebrewאתרוג, אתרוג האצבעות
אֶתְרוֹג, אֶתְרוֹג האֶצְבַּעוֹת
Etrog, Ethrog; Etrog hetsbaot (C. medica var. sarcodactylus)
Hindiचकोतरी
Chakotri
HungarianCédrátcitrom
IcelandicSkrápsítróna
IndonesianJeruk bodong, Jeruk sekade
ItalianCedro
Japanese, 柚子, 仏手柑
ゆず, ぶっしゅかん
シトロン, ブッシュカン, ユズ
Yuzu, Shitoron; Busshukan (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylus)
LatinCitrium, Citrus
MalayJeruk sekade, Jeruk asem
Malayalamഗണപതിനാരകം
Ganapati-naragam
Manipuri (Meitei-Lon)হৈজাঙ
ꯍꯩꯖꯥꯡ
Heijang
Nepaliबिमरा
Bimara
Newari
(Nepalbhasa)
तःसी
Tahsi (Citrus medica)
PahlaviVaadrang
PortugueseCidra
PolishCytron
RussianСладкий лимон, Цитрон, Цедрат
Sladkij limon, Tsedrat, Tsitron
SanskritBara nimbu, Bijapura, Turanj
SinhalaLapnaarang
SlovakCedrát
SpanishCidra, Ethrog
SwahiliChungwa
Thaiมะนาวควาย
Manao khwai
TurkishAğaç kavunu
VietnameseThanh yên, Hương duyên, Phật thủ
Thanh yen, Huong duyen; Phat thu (Citrus medica sarcodactylus)
Yiddishאתרוג, ציטרון־עפּל
Esrik, Tsitron-Epl
Citrus limon: Ripe lemons
Ripe lemons
Note

The Indo­nesian term jeruk may equally apply to various citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange).

Used plant part

The peel (pericarp) of the fruit is used as a spice; also the fruit juice is culinarily valuable. Of the related citron, the thick pericarp is used to prepare candied lemon peel (succade).

Citrus medica: Succade (candied citron)
Succade (candied citron)
Citrus limon: Lemon half
Lemon

Despite their strong and refreshing lemon fragrance, lemon leaves are hardly ever used in the kitchen.

Plant family

Rutaceae (citrus family).

Sensory quality

Lemon has a characteristic, refreshing and sour odour. See lemon myrtle for a comparative discussion on lemon fragrance.
The fruit juice is very sour. A fuller discussion about acidic spices is given with mango.

Citrus limon: Lemon flower
Lemon flower
Citrus medica: Bimara citron (lemon) from Nepal
Nepalese citron (bimara [बिमरा])
Main constituents

The fruit juice mainly contains sugars and fruit acids, mainly citric acid (8%).

Lemon peel consists of two layers: The outermost layer (pericarp, zest) contains an essential oil (6%), that is mostly composed of limonene (90%) and citral (5%) plus traces of citronellal, α-terpineol, linalyl and geranyl acetate. The inner layer (meso­carp), on the other hand, contains no essen­tial oil but a variety of bitter flavone glyco­sides and coumarin deriv­atives.

Origin

Origin of all Citrus species is unclear because of their ancient cultivation (see also orange); C. limon is thought native in Central Asia; there is rumour that some wild populations of citron can still be found in Iran.

Today, lemons are cultivated in many tropic or subtropical countries. The USA and México are the main producers; México, due to its tropic climate, mostly accounts for limes. In Europe, most lemons actually stem from Spain or Italy.

Citron is of compara­tively little economic value. It is mostly grown in Sicily, Greece and Corsica.

Poncirus trifoliata: Three-leaved lemon flower
Three-leaved lemon, Poncirus trifoliata, flower.
Because it is largely frost-tolerant, this species is often grafted with the more delicate edible citrus cultivars.
Poncirus trifoliata: Japanese bergamot flowers
Three-leaved lemon flowers

www.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de

Poncirus trifoliata: Japanese bergamot fruits
Three-leaves lemon fruits
Fruit is inedible, abut highly aromatic.

www.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de

Poncirus trifoliata: Three-leaved lemon fruit
Three-leaved lemon, Poncirus trifoliata.
Citrus medica: Citron flower
Citron flower
Citrus medica: Unripe citron
Unripe citron
Citrus sinensis: Ripe lemon
Ripe lemon
Etymology

Citrus is, in last con­sequence, derived from Greek kedromelon [κεδρο­μῆλον] apple of cedar (Greek melon [μῆλον] is cognate to Latin malum apple); this name, however, did not signify lemon, but citron whose culti­vation in Egypt is reported by Greek travel­lers. The Romans, then, shortened the Greek name to citrus.

Names for lemon in a large number of European tongues derive from Latin citrus, e. g., German Zitrone, French citron, Finnish sitruuna, Latvian citrons, Czech citrón, Polish cytryna, Hungarian citrom, Yiddish zitstrin [זיצטרין] and Armenian gidron [կիտրոն], all of which mean lemon. Some languages have similar names for the more ancient fruit, citron, which should not be confused with lemon: Croatian četrun, Polish cytron, French cédrat, Italian cedro, Russian tsedrat [цедрат] and Greek kitro [κίτρο].

English lemon, and a number of other names for that fruit, derive from Arabic al-limun [الليمون] lemon; see lime for more. The botanical species epithet of citron, medicus, alludes to the Central Asian people of the Medes, who are supposed to have introduced citron to the Mediterranean countries.

Citrus medica: Citron fruit
Citron fruit (ornamental)

www.desert-tropicals.com

Citrus medica ‘Sarcodactylus’: Buddha’s hand
Buddha’s hands, an ornamental citron variety

www.zitrusgaertnerei.de

Citrus medica: Edible citron
Edible citron

http://www.isolotto.com

The some­what puzzeling German name Zitronat­zitrone citron is a simple tatpuru­sha com­pound (prim­ary word Zitrone le­mon, deter­mina­tive ele­ment Zitronat suc­cade) mean­ing lemon whose peel is used for making suc­cade; the same holds for Hun­garian cédrát­citrom, and also Finnish sukaatti seems to be derived from suc­cade. In Dutch, citron is called muskus­citroen musky lemon; see nut­meg on the word musk.

I was not able to find a definitive etymology for the term succade candied citron peel. I guess that it is derived from Hebrew sukkot or sukoth [סוכות] which refers to the Jewish Feast of Taber­nacles, a religious rite involving, among others, citron fruit (etrog [אתרוג]) and myrtle branches (hadas [הדס]). Some sources, however, trace the name back to Latin succus juice. A third possibility is to relate succade to sugar or a cognate (e. g., French sucre). Names of sugar in almost all European tongues come, via Old Italian zucchero, Late Latin saccharum, Greek sakcharon [σάκχαρον] and Persian shakar (today Farsi shakar [شکر]) from Sanskrit sharkara [शर्करा] sugar, which originally meant pebbles or grit and was also used to denote crystallized sugar, which was a genuine Indian invention.

In India, lemon is not much known, as the tropcal climate favours lime as the sour citrus fruit. Yet, in the Himalaya, true lemon is grown together with lime. The two fruits are both called nimbu in Hindi; if desired, a distinction can be made between bara nimbu [बड़ा निंबू] big nimbu (lemon) and chota nimbu [छोटा निंबू] small nimbu (lime). Lemon-like fruits are also found in North-Eastern India: In the Khasi and Garo Hills, and in the states bordering Burma.

Selected Links

Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Zedratzitrone (rezkonv.de via archive.org) chemikalienlexikon.de: Citral Transport Information Service: Lemons Citrus Online Buch: Die Zitrone Citrus Online Buch: Die Zedrate Citron (purdue.edu) Lemon (purdue.edu) Sorting Citrus names (www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au) Recipe: Avgolemono Sauce [αυγολέμονο] (globalgourmet.com) Recipe: Avgolemono Soup [αυγολέμονο] (www.hevanet.com) Recipe: Avgolemono Soup [αυγολέμονο] (www.cookingcache.com) Rezept: Ritschert (www.silvana.at) Rezept: Ritschert (ichkoche.at) Rezept: Topfenpalatschinken (ichkoche.at) Rezept: Ritschert (kundendienst.orf.at) Recipe: Tagliolini al Limone (recipes.chef2chef.net) Recipe: Linguine al Tonno, Limone e Rughetta (cucinacasalinga.com) Recipe: Linguine and lemon sauce (deliciousitaly.com) Recipe: Homemade candied orange or lemon peel (www.vinetreeorchards.com)


Citrus limon: Lemon flower and fruits
Lemon flower and fruits

www.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de

Citrus limon: Himalayan lemon fruit
Lemon growing in the Indian Himalayas
Lemons were brought to Europe by the Crusades; medieval or even older sources referring to lemons always mean the very aromatic, but juice-free citron, which was, at different times, recognized as the biblical apple (sour, indeed!; actually, the fruit meant in the Bible was most probably pome­granate, which is most common in the Middle East) or the Apples of the Hesperides. Today, citron has still retained some cultic importance in the Jewish religion, where it is seen as s symbol of fer­tili­ty; see pome­granate about citron’s (possible) appearance in the Old Testament.

In antiquity, citron was more grown as an ornamental and medicine than for food usage; Romans preferred vinegar and occasionally sumac berries to set sour accents in their cuisine (see silphion for details). To my knowledge, not even citron peel has been used culinarily in Rome, but the Apicius suggests wine flavoured with citrus leaves as a surrogate for rose wine (see silphion).

The contem­porary culi­nary im­por­tance of citron is due to its thick peel, which is first cured in salt water and then candied. The pro­duct ob­tained, named in­accurate­ly candied lemon peel or succade, is often used to flavour cakes; in Central Europe, it is often em­ployed for the numerous cakes and cookies served at Christ­mas time. Besides the culinary types, there are also orna­mental breeds of citron grown for their large, aromatic and often specta­cularly shaped fruits. An example is the cultivar known as cf. sarco­dactylus, which is known as Buddha’s hands (calqued on Chinese fo shou gan [佛手柑] Buddha hand tangerine): In this particular cultivar, the citron wedges are joined only at the base of the fruit; at the opposite end, the wedges separate and form a bizarre structure resembling fingers sprouting from a hand (or a poly­tentacled cephalopod).

Lemon, on the other side, is mostly valued for its juice. Lemon juice displays a unique, intensive acidity which is at the same time tart and fruity. There is hardly one single cuisine in the world that does not make use of lemon juice (or the similar, but more aromatic lime juice). Lemon juice is especially popular in the East Mediterranean, e. g., in Lebanese tabbouleh (see parsley), and also in Italy. See also mango for more information on sour spices.

Citrus limon: Lemon tree
Lemon tree

www.botanikus.de

Citrus limon: Lemon plant
Lemon plant with flowers and fruits

Lemon juice (and some­times also grated lemon peel) is the key ingredient in the famed Greek yolk-lemon sauce avgo­lemono [αυγο­λέμονο]. In its simplest form, this is just prepared from fish or meat broth, lemon juice, egg yolks, and a pinch of black pepper; possible elaborations include cornstarch or flour as an additional thickener, or addition of butter to make the sauce richer; in the latter case, the sauce acquires in part the character of emulgated sauces, see tarragon. Avgolemono is wonderfully creamy, light and refreshingly acidic; the sauce is usually served to boiled meats or vegetables, but it can also be made into a more hearty soup by adding rice or noodles.

In Western cuisine, fried or grilled fish is nearly always served with a few splashes of lemon juice which mitigates the typical 'fishy' smell and makes it more pleasant. It is also often employed to prepare refreshing salads, especially in the Mediterranean countries. Lemon juice intensifies the flavour of many fruits, and a few drops of lemon juice plus a dash of sugar creates a slightly sweet–sour tang that can make many vegetables more interesting. Outside of the tropics, lemon juice is often (ab)used as a substitute for lime juice.

Citrus limon: Branch with ripe lemons
Branch with ripe lemons
Citrus limon: Unripe lemons
Unripe lemon fruits on tree
Citrus limon: Ripe lemon fruits in Georgia
Ripe Lemons

Culinary usage of lemon peel (lemon zest) is less important. Lemon peel goes well for types of food that are prepared with lemon juice as well, for example fish soups or fish stews. Ritschert, a traditional South Austrian stew made from white beans, smoked meat and pearl barley, was always prepared with a dash of lemon peel by my grandmother (who wouldn’t use lemon peel for any other savoury food). I am surprised that there is essen­tially no recipe on the web nor in cook­books that match hers. In South Italy, where lemons are plenty and always fresh, there are even pasta sauces made from whole chopped lemons, or lemon juice plus lemon peel.

In Morocco, fresh ripe lemons are incised and pickled with a large amount of salt; after some ripening, they become a unique kinde of lemon pickle (l'hamd l'markad, Standard Arabic al-hamid al-marqad [الحامض المرقد]) that can be used as flavouring, both the zest and (more rarely) the pulp. Pickled lemon peel is an indispensable spice of Moroccan cooking and frequently employed, e. g., for the meat or fish stews known as tagine or tajine [طاجن] which are slowly braised in a clay pot carrying the same name.

When lemon peel is grated, care must be taken to limit the amount of the white albedo (mesocarp), as the essential oil and hence the aroma is located in the outer thin yellow pericarp exclusively; in contrast, the mesocarp is bitter. It is almost impossible to avoid the bitter mesocarp completely, and so grated lemon peel will always display a slightly bitter quality (which is a value in itself, see also zedoary about bitter spices). This bitterness makes lemon peel inappropriate for delicate dishes and sweets; in these cases, lemon essence or candied citron are far superior, unless one grates really carefully.



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