The lemon is both a small evergreen tree (Citrus × limon, often given as C. limon) native to Asia, and the tree's oval yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and nonculinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind (zest) are also used, mainly in cooking and baking. Lemon juice is about 5% to 6% (approximately 0.3 M) citric acid, which gives lemons a sour taste, and a pH of 2 to 3. This makes lemon juice an inexpensive, readily available acid for use in educational science experiments. Many lemon-flavored drinks and candies are available, including lemonade and sherbet lemons. The distinctive sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in many dishes across the world.
The exact origin of the lemon has remained a mystery, though it is widely presumed that lemons first grew in India, northern Burma, and China. In South and South East Asia, it was known for its antiseptic properties and it was used as an antidote for various poisons. Lemons entered Europe (near southern Italy) no later than the 1st century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. It was later introduced to Persia and then to Iraq and Egypt around AD 700. The lemon was first recorded in literature in a 10th century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens. It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between AD 1000 and AD 1150. The genetic origin of the lemon, however, was reported to be hybrid between sour orange and citron.
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