Table of content A-Z




Botanical name: Citrus limon




The home of the lemon is most probably northern India, where it has been cultivated for 2500 years. In China as well it was known long before our time reckoning. Sometime in the 12th century, lemons were brought from Syria and Palestine to the southern coasts of Italy and France by the crusaders. The fruit then spread throughout the entire Mediterranean area.

The lemon was probably known to the explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries as a remedy for scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and was carried by them to all regions of the world. Today, lemons are grown chiefly in the subtropics, the main areas being the USA and the countries of the Mediterranean.



The supply of lemons from the Mediterranean area is constant throughout the year, although the amounts are naturally smaller in the summer months. Between May and November lemons from Argentina, South Africa and Uruguay are also sold.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Lemons are oval-round and have more or less distinct navels at the ends. The rind is yellow to greenish and large- or small-pored, depending on the variety. The segmented pulp is also yellow or light-green and tastes very sour. Depending on the variety, there are small white pips inside.



The lemon is considered to be an excellent supplier of vitamin C. In addition, lemons contain the secondary plant substance hesperidin, which belongs to the polyphenols, or more precisely to the flavonoids.


100 g contain:


Lemon, fresh

Lemon, juice

Energy (kcal)



Water (g)



Protein (g)



Fat (g)



Carbohydrates (g)



Fibre (g)



Vitamin C (mg)



Vitamin A (RE) (µg)



Folic acid (µg)



Potassium (mg)



Sodium (mg)



Calcium (mg)



Magnesium (mg)



Iron (mg)



Note: As this is a natural product, and as the information is taken from various sources and therefore from different analyses, there may be fluctuations in the nutritional facts. The minerals in particular may fluctuate, since the plant takes these from the soil, the composition of which itself can vary. Its mineral content is influenced, for instance, by fertilization. The footnotes are explained here.


Foreign substances

To prevent citrus fruits from moulding during transport and storage, the rind of conventionally grown fruit is often treated with preservatives. The rind of fruits treated this way is not suitable for consumption.

If you intend to use grated lemon rind (lemon zest), you should purchase lemons that are designated as untreated or not sprayed.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Spots on the rind are not a sign of lesser quality. More important is that you buy smaller, firm and heavy fruits with a shiny, small-pored rind. These are often juicier than large fruits. Lemons with a large-pored surface usually have a thick rind and relatively little pulp. Fruits with a greenish shimmer are frequently very sour. Lemons remain fresh for about 1 week at room temperature. In the refrigerator they will keep for up to 2 weeks.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Lemons are rarely eaten raw; nevertheless, they are an important component of our diet. Their juice is used in pastries and cakes, in desserts, soft drinks or hot tea and to enhance salad dressings. Hot lemon drink is a popular remedy for the common cold. Keep in mind, however, that if the water is too hot, the vitamin C, which is very sensitive to heat, is destroyed.

If you roll a lemon forcefully and press it while doing so before you squeeze it, you will have an especially high yield of juice.


Slices of lemon are excellently suited for decorating refreshing drinks, cocktails or cold platters. They are also served with fish, breaded cutlets or chicken. In some dishes they are cooked with the other ingredients, supplying aroma and enhancing the flavour. It is good to pierce the slices first with a fork.


In addition to the juice, lemon rind is a popular seasoning. For this purpose you should use untreated fruit. Since you can never be absolutely sure whether you have really bought untreated lemons, you should always wash them before using them. Use a fine grater to remove the rind; only the yellow outer rind contains the aroma.


Lemon oil, extracted from the rind of ripe lemons, is used in the beverage and perfume industries.





  This article was written by




  With the website the Fritz Terfloth Foundation of Münster offers consumers independent and competent information about plant foods and their health effects. All texts are subject to German copyright law. Information about the conditions for use of the texts by third parties can be found here.