Attention lemon lovers around the world: If lemon is your favorite flavor, you have come to the right place! Similarly, if you are a seasoned chef, professional baker, budding culinary student, or restaurant owner, this Comprehensive Guide to Cooking and Baking with Lemons is the perfect recipe for success to keep your customers coming back for more.
So pucker up and prepare to learn all about lemons, one of Mother Nature’s most underestimated flavorful ingredients…
Tapping into the Taste of Lemon
Lemons are best known for their slightly sour or tart taste. Typically used to enhance the flavor of other foods (rather than be consumed alone), their pungent quality becomes citrusy, light, and refreshing when added to sweet and savory recipes alike. During the cooking or baking process, all parts of a lemon can be used: the juice, the pulp, and the peel/rind (Note: In recipes, grated lemon rind is often referred to as ‘lemon zest’).
To juice a lemon by hand: Cut lemons in half. Place each half on a juicer and grind by pressing and moving lemon from side to side until all the juice has been removed. Finally, strain lemon juice to remove seeds and pulp.
To prepare lemon zest: Using a grater with small holes, press one side of the lemon on the grater, grate using a downward motion. Repeat until the entire rind has been shredded.
Lemon Fun Facts
- Did you know that lemons are technically berries and that they come in different varieties? Each type boasts its own one-of-a-kind flavor and aroma, giving you plenty of options when adding lemon to your favorite recipes. Depending on seasonable availability, experiment with some of the following types of lemon: Eureka, Lisbon, Meyer, Ponderosa, Bears, Sorrento.
- Lemons originated in China over 2,500 years ago, where they continue to be revered as a symbol of happiness. As they began to be cultivated around the world, they were considered a rare and expensive specialty food that kings would exchange as royal gifts.
- Today, California is the leading of producer of lemons in the United States, providing 95% of the entire USA lemon crop.
- An average lemon contains 15 calories, three tablespoons of juice, 5% citric acid, and are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Lemons’ acidity is what helps them prevent the browning of fruits and vegetables in salads.
- Every year, the city of Menton in the French Riviera celebrates a Lemon Festival.
- As of 2003, the heaviest recorded lemon weighed a whopping 11 pounds, 9.7 ounces!
Popular Uses of Lemons in Cooking
Lemons are most often included in recipes for salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. In the beverage industry, they are frequently added to hot and cold drinks such as citrus waters, teas, and…lemonade! Lemon flavor also pairs well with spices such as thyme, garlic, and chili powder, and is often the shining star in baking and dessert recipes.
Lemon Desserts and Dishes
If you’re seeking lemon baking recipes to add to your restaurant’s menu, check out the following ideas recommended by the pros.
Lemon Flavored Desserts: Lemon coconut cake, moist lemon loaf, lemon custard, lemon strawberry/blueberry/raspberry mousse, lemon meringue pie, no-bake lemon cheesecake, lemon drizzle cake, lemon bars, lemon tarts, lemon crumble, lemon tiramisu, lemon trifle, lemon sponge cake, lemon ice cream cake, lemon sorbet, lemon chocolate cheesecake, lemon layer cake, lemon mango shake, lemon cream cupcakes, lemon gingerbread
Lemon Cooking Recipes: Look up recipes for lemon roast chicken, lemon chicken wings, slow-cooker lemon chicken, lemon lamb, lemon pasta bake, lemon chili tortillas, lemon butter.
Finally, you can treat your customers to the tingling taste of lemon for breakfast with decadent lemon spread or lemon jam used as a sweet condiment on toast, buns, muffins, scones, and more.
Lemon Tips and Tricks
How to Damper Lemon Taste in Recipes
Despite their small size, lemons pack a powerful flavorful punch! To take the edge off of the bitter taste of lemons in select recipes, try the following:
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. The vanilla serves to neutralize the bitter lemon flavor and make dishes more palatable.
- To dilute the taste of lemons in beverages, experiment with adding mint leaves, sprigs of rosemary, water, soda, and/or sugar.
Using Lemon Juice to Prepare Homemade Buttermilk
Did you know that the simple addition of lemon juice is all you need to make homemade buttermilk? Here’s how:
- For each cup of milk called for in a recipe, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix the liquids together until thick and clumpy. Continue to gently stir until fresh buttermilk is ready for the taking!
Best Lemon Substitutes
If your customers are allergic or sensitive to lemons, or if a recipe calls for lemon juice and you find your pantry empty, don’t panic. Fortunately, there are many quick-fixes to the situation.
- Simply substitute with alternative ingredients such as: Lime juice, orange juice, lemon zest, 1-2 drops lemon extract, powdered citric acid (in a ratio of 1 teaspoon citric acid per ½ cup lemon juice), vinegar (for small amounts), white wine (substitute 1:1), and cream of tartar (for each teaspoon of lemon juice called for, add ½ teaspoon cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon of water or other liquid).
Irresistibly Decadent Lemon Recipes
If the above has whet your appetite for all things lemon, your taste buds are in for a treat… Below are two mouthwatering recipes: one for lemon salad dressing and the other a dessert. Bon Appétit!
Honey-Lemon Salad Dressing
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, honey, and thyme
- Whisk in olive oil
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Drizzle on salads, cooked vegetables, or baked fish/chicken
Super Easy Lemon Coconut Cake
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a deep round cake pan.
- In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, mixing well with wooden spoon until batter is smooth.
- Pour into baking pan and bake until slightly golden, approximately 40 minutes.