Citrus limon is a species of small evergreen tree or spreading bush in the Rutaceae family. Producing fragrant flowers and juicy bright yellow fruit rich in Vitamin C, citric acid and limonene, said to originally be used as an antidote to poisons prior to its culinary and medicinal uses being recognized.
Due to lemon's high citric acid content, when used to marinate meat, the acids partially hydrolyze tough collagen fibers, breaking them down to tenderize the meat or denature the proteins in fish so it appears to have been cooked with heat. The citric acid from lemons is also used as a temporary preservative on fruits, denaturing the browning enzymes to help prevent oxidation.
The terpene limonene, found in abundance in lemons, has shown to be an effective antimicrobial, specifically against salmonella, staphylococcus, other pathogenic bacteria and some studies have shown it can help prevent or kill the bacteria associated with acne.
Aside from antimicrobial properties, lemon oil is a powerful solvent as well, making it an excellent cleaning agent. In high enough concentrations limonene has been shown to kill soft body insects on contact, which could be used in organic gardening applications, as well as home pest control for certain insects.
Although the aroma molecules are not really associated with the immune boosting benefits of lemons, limonene can produce stimulating effects. Lemons have high amounts of Vitamin C which has been linked to the stimulation of white blood cell production, possibly protecting the integrity of immune cells and in helping neutralize free radicals. Lemon oils are used in a wide array of products and manufacturing, from soaps, cosmetics and perfumes to flavorings and preservatives.
The mesocarb or albedo (white part) of the lemon is high in pectin and is used to manufacture pectin for the food and medical industries. Prior to fermentation-based processes, lemons were the main source for manufacturing citric acid for food preservation and other applications.
🍋 So, when life gives you lemons, there is more to make than just lemonade.