Lemon or Lime (Nimboo) is a greenish or yellowish juicy Berry fruit, rich in vitamin C and is commonly used as flavour and preservative in culinary and a number of therapeutic applications. It is borne on evergreen thorny bush, shrub or small tree. The plant bears white flowers. Lemon belongs to Family Rutaceae and its Botanical name is Citrus limon/ Citrus medica. Other closely allied fruits are Orange, Malta, Mausambi, Keenu with slightly different taste and texture.
It is found both as wild or cultivated horticultural plant throughout the world supposed to have originated in South East Asia ( India, Burma & China) It is supposed to have originated genetically as a hybrid of sour orange and Citron during 1000 AD.
It prefers temperate as well as sub tropical climatic conditions and is a hardy plant. It bears green shiny leaves with winged petiole. Unripe green fruits turn yellowish on ripening but in some varieties remain green, Fruits are round or elliptical in shape sometimes pointed on one side ranging from 2-4 inches in diameter. Skin of the fruit may be thin and delicate or thick and tough. It has many varieties such as Eureka, Lisbon, Villafranca, Lucknow seedless, Assam Lemon, Nepali Round etc. From each medium sized lemon 2-3 tablespoons of juice can be squeezed out. The Juice contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 ( Total 18%), minerals like Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper and about 88% Vitamin C along with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is sour in taste and has unique fragrance. 100gm of lemon juice on consumption can provide 29 kcal energy. Other constituents of lemon include volatile oil in the peel, flavonoids, bitter limonoids, citral coumarin, pectins, mucilage and alpha-terpinene.
SIGNIFICANT HEALTH BENEFITS OF LEMON.
Lemon is credited with many virtues but most interesting claim is its ability to kill cancer cell and its use as a substitute to chemotherapy. But all these properties of lemon are still to be proved experimentally. Investigation on chemical constituents of lemon and their relationship to cancer prevention is under progress in some laboratories. Following are some of its common therapeutic applications.
Helps to tackle skin problems As lemon has antibacterial and antiseptic property it is able to rejuvenate skin and it is rich in vitamin C enhances beauty. It acts as anti -aging remedy and is able to remove wrinkles, blackheads and scar left by burns So is commonly used in soaps, Shampoo, cleansng lotion etc.
Helps to tackle mouth and dental problems Lemon juice when applied to gums can stop gum bleeding and also assist in getting rid of toothache. It gives relief from bad mouth smell.
It cures throat infection As lemon juice has antibacterial property, gargle with lemon water along with a little salt helps in fighting against throat infection and also assist in curing respiratory problem.
It is beneficial in reducing weight It helps in loosing weight faster. For this purpose one has to take one glass of lemon water in the morning with empty stomach. The lemon water is prepared by squeezing juice of one lemon and mixing it in a glass of lukewarm water with 3 spoons of honey and a pinch of salt. It certainly helps in reducing weight on one hand and person consuming it feels energetic and fresh whole day.
It controls high blood pressure It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, nausea as well as provides relaxation to mind and body. It also controls mental stress, depression and nervous disorders.
It helps in curing Rheumatism Lemon is also a diuretic and hence lemon water can treat rheumatism and arthritis. It helps to flush out bacteria and toxins out of the body.
It reduces fever Lemon water can treat a person who is suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps to break fever by increasing perspiration. Half cut lemon slightly roasted on fire with little of salt and black pepper improves the taste after fever.
It acts as blood purifier The diseases like cholera or malaria can be treated with lemon water as it can act as a blood purifier.
It is good for relieving stomach problems Due to the digestive qualities lemon juice helps in tackling indigestion, gastric trouble and constipation. It also acts as a liver tonic and in killing parasites. It is antibacterial, antifungal and is also able to control worms. Lemon water with sugar and salt is also prescribed to compensate water loss or dehydration during diarrhea and dysentery.
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF LEMON
Although lemon has so many virtues but some people have skin allergy towards lemon and at the same time it may adversely affect teeth enamel, gasteroesophageal disease and tonsillitis. As lemon juice has citric acid may irritate mucosa and decalcify teeth.
USES OF LEMON IN CULINARIS
• Lemon juice, flesh and skin are used in many culinary application and is a common kitchen item throughout the world. Lemon is used to prepare a variety of food recipes as potato chat, mixed chat, cakes, lemon chicken, lemon flavoured drinks.
• It is used to make lemonade (Shikanjee along with sugar), Sharbat, Squash (soft drink).
• It is used as preservative in preparation of short term pickles of ginger, garlic, green Chill etc.
• It is used in dressing onion, tomato, cucumber, radish and beet root salad.
• It is also used in fruit salads of apple, banana, guava as its juice is acidic denatures the enzymes and prevent browning and degradation of fruits and keep them fresh for longer duration.
• Lemon juice is also used to marinate fish (reduces smell ), mutton and chicken for tenderizing collagen fibres.
• While making Ladoos, Shakarpara, Gulabjamun and Jalebi Sugar syrup ( Chasini) is cleared by adding some lemon juice as it contains citric acid.
• Grated dried skin (as that of orange) is used in bakery for flavour and in marmalads, jams, jellies, puddings and biryani.
CERTAIN DOMESTIC USES OF LEMON
Aroma of lemon oil is used in aromatherapy, enhances mood and vigour.
It is also used in soaps, body lotion, shampoos and other cosmetics as moisturizer.
Sliced lemon is used as freshener in refrigerator.
It is used to clean and brighten copper wares and decorative pieces along with salt and baking soda.
Half cut lemon is rubbed to remove stains, oil, grease and to clean plastic storage containers.
It is also used for preparation of citric acid.
It is used as ubtan (Scrub ) on skin along with gram floor, turmeric, curd and rose water.
It is applied along with coconut oil on the scalp before head wash to get rid of Dandruff.
CULTIVATION OF LEMON
Lemon is cultivated by seeds which germinate on getting moisture or by cuttings, grafting etc. Nursery beds are prepared on light fertile soils. It grows well in wide range of soils. pH range of 5. 5 to 7. 5 is favourable for lemon plantation. Soil should be well drained. Irrigation improves the plant growth, flowering and fruiting in citrus. Planting should be done from June to August. Inter plant spacing should be 5m x 5m. Manuring is required thrice in a year. Spray of micronutrients promote growth. Sub tropical climate is best suited for lemon growth and development. Dry and arid conditions having low rainfall are most favourable for the crop. India ranks sixth in production of lemon in the world. In India Citrus fruits are grown in Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh. Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Gujrat, Assam and Uttaranchal Lemon trees are perennial and produce fruits upto 10 to 15 years and may attain a height of 6-8 feet and canopy of about 4 feet.
DISEASE MANAGEMENT OF LEMON
The most common disease of Lemon and other citrus plants in India is Citrus canker. Kagzi Nimboo becomes infected in rainy season by bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas citri through stomata and wounds. The disease affects leaves, twigs and fruits. All green parts and maturing fruits become covered by brown scabby spots of about 3-4mm. The market value of fruits is reduced due to scabby lesions. To control this disease 1% Bordeaux mixture or 500 ppm solution of Streptomycin sulphate is effective. Gummosis of Citrus is caused by Phytophthora Species. The symptoms are exudation of gummy substance, yellowing and ultimately falling of leaves. Greening disease of Citrus is caused by Psylla (MLOs). Symptoms are yellowing of midribs and veins of mature leaves. Ultimately whole leaf turns yellow and fall. For its control spray of 0. 05% Malathion is used. Aphids cause a serious damage to Citrus tree during growing season. Aphids suck the sap from leaves so leaves become twisted and deformed. Citrus whiteflies tiny winged insect feeds on underside of leaves and also lay eggs. On hatching of eggs larvae remain attached to leaf and suck the sap. Leaves become curled and covered by a moldy substance. For control of pests gammexane powder can be dusted on leaves and soil surrounding the roots.
POST HARVEST DISEASES OF LEMON
As other fruits and vegetables lemons are also infected by variety of pathogens during storage such as. Alternaria, Fusarium, Botrytis, Geotrichum, Penicillium etc causing black and brown rot, gray and blue green molds resulting in heavy damage. To control these post harvest diseases they should be stored in low temperature and while packing for transportation safe and mild fungicides should be used.
RECIPE FOR PREPARATION OF SOME PICKLES OF LEMON
1. Whole lemon with salt and Ajwain (Carum) I have seen this pickle being prepared since childhood by my mother.
Ingredients 25 lemons of medium size
200-250 gm salt
2 tbs Ajwain
Method – Lemons are washed with water and dried. Both end are cut with knife and with fork lemons were punctured at seven to eight places. The lemons along with salt and ajwain were placed in a clean glass jar with tight lid. The air was left in sunlight for about 25 days. The jar was shaken after every 2 to 3 days. The colour of lemons gradually changed. It is a long lasting prickle and can be stored. It is very tasty and can be taken with Khichadi or Rice and dal. It is useful in gastric troubles.
2. Sweet and Sour Pickle of Lemon
Ingredients: Lemon -1kg
Salt -150 gms
Sugar -200 gms
Garam Masala(Coarsely Ground )-4 tsps ( Dalchini, Bara Illaichi, Clover and
Method: Lemons are washed with water and dried. With sharp knife two cuts are made to divide the lemon into four pieces joined at the base. In between cuts mixture of salt, sugar and garm masala is filled. These stuffed lemons are placed in a glass jar with the air tight lid. It is left in sun for about a month. The pickle is very tasty and can be stored for 2-3 years.
3. Ginger pickle in lemon juice
½ kg Ginger is peeled off, washed and cut into long and thin slices. 7-8 Lemons are squeezed to extract the juice. The ginger pieces are kept in a glass jar and about 2 tbs of salt and lemon juice is added and is stirred well. In one or two days colour of ginger pieces turn pink and the prickle is ready to be consumed. It can be used for about two weeks after that colour of ginger pieces starts becoming pale and the taste also changes.
4. Garlic pickle in lemon Juice
Peeled cloves of garlic are mixed with little salt and lemon juice in a glass jar. In about 10 to 15 days garlic cloves become tender and sour in taste. It is prescribed in stomach problems, indigestion etc.
5. Green Chilly pickle in lemon juice
Green chillies are cut length wise in the middle and then to them salt and lemon juice is added. It is a very tasty pickle, enhances the hunger.