Zesty Lemons and Limes

POV: Zesty Lemons & Limes

Nothing adds zing and zest to foods like a squeeze of lemon or a spritz of lime. These little citrus fruits — a staple in most kitchens — are also chock-full of vitamin C, which helps protect the body from toxins that damage cells and cause disease. Lemons and limes are also loaded with other nutrients that contribute to good health, including folate, potassium, vitamin B6, thiamine and niacin.

Choose lemons and limes that have thin skins because they tend to be juicier. Often the juiciest lemons and limes feel heavy for their size.


Lemons vary in size and have thick or thin peels. Choose bright yellow lemons with no tinges of green. You can store lemons in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Remember to wash lemons before using their peels. You can also grate the zest — which is the outer colored portion of the citrus peel.


The most widely available lime in this country is the Persian lime. Key limes, a smaller variety that originated in Florida, are rounder than Persians and more yellowish in color. Although they’re famously used in Key lime pie, you can substitute Key limes for Persian limes in any recipe.

Choose limes that are bright green, smooth and heavy, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Wash them before using their peels.

Citrus Tips

Here are some handy measurements and tips for using lemons and limes:

  • One medium lemon = 2 to 3 teaspoons of zest and 3 tablespoons of juice
  • One medium lime = 1-1/2 teaspoons zest and 1-1/2 tablespoons juice
  • To release more juice, let lemons and limes come to room temperature; Place your palm on top of each fruit and roll it slowly but firmly across the countertop
  • Keep in mind that the vitamin C in these fruits breaks down during cooking, so add lemon and lime juice to dishes just before serving

Adding Zest to Foods

Sure, lemonade is a year-round favorite and limes are an essential ingredient in margaritas, but lemons and limes are also great for adding a burst of flavor to foods and beverages:

  • Add flavor to tap or bottled water with a lemon or lime twist
  • Add lemon juice to soups, stews, salad dressings, sauces and marinades instead of using salt or butter
  • Add lime juice to marinades, fish dishes, salsas and curries
  • Use lemons in marinades, especially for chicken and fish
  • Sprinkle lemon or lime juice on top of your favorite vegetables, seafood and salads
  • Add fresh grated lemon or lime peel to baked goods, fruit salads, desserts and sauces
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to poached eggs to help them set
  • Use lemon juice on apples, pears and bananas or white vegetables, such as potatoes, to help them keep their color

When you need a zesty burst of flavor in anything from drinks to desserts, look to versatile lemons and limes. Treat them as a staple and keep a few of each in the refrigerator to perk up all your favorite recipes!

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