When life give you lemons...

By Niel Vaughan

The humble lemon is one of the oldest cultivars in human food culture. 

It’s more ubiquitous than salt and pepper in our homes, on our tables and in our neighbourhoods.

Yet, it has a complicated history of migration, cross-breeding and gene-swapping to create that golden ingredient: a juicy acidity that elevates every flavour known to a higher dimension.   

Lemons came to Australia 4 million years ago with one of Earth’s past climate shifts.

Weaker monsoons and drier weather helped them spread from the foothills of the Himalayas to the rest of Southeast Asia. Versions of the word lemon are found in Parsi, Arabic, Hindi and most native tongues of Europe. It was there that the lemon was packed on Christopher Columbus’ ship, heading out in search of the New World.  

Lemons have been instrumental in the expansion of sea travel, by keeping sailors nourished with vitamin C. 

Today, the Royal British Navy requires sailors to have an ounce of lemon juice per day to avoid scurvy.

A few big lemons store enough citric acid to power a digital watch! Citrus limon is a berry that fruits all year round. Their high acidity makes them a favourite natural cleaning agent. Not to mention all the medicinal uses lemons are known for. 

Lemon trees are found dotted through our Westside neighbourhoods, standing between window to roof height. They mark the growth and history of Melbourne whilst producing between 100 and 280 kilograms of lemons per year.    

So when you see that fragrant lemon tree boughed heavy with golden globes of sunlight hanging over neighbourhood fences, why not ask if you can use those beauties for something as deliciously indulgent as lemon curd, preserved lemons or lemon sesame cakes, or for keeping the kitchen clean with something local and natural.

When life gives you lemons…

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