Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen


Lemons in Hiding
Lemony Herbs, Fruits, and Aromatics

by Kate Heyhoe


A stroll down a supermarket cleaning aisle is ample evidence: lemons smell good. Manufacturers inject lemon scent into everything from furniture polish to floor cleaners to body soaps. Why? Because we love citrus aromas-all kinds, including orange and lime-and we're especially partial to lemon.

Lemon Thyme

Mother Nature knows this. Which is why she's allowed lemon essence to cross over from tree fruit to her other culinary babies. For instance, lemon finds a home in herbs by way of lemon thyme (pictured), lemon basil, lemon mint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena. In Southeast Asia, fibrous stalks of lemongrass perfume soups, sauces, and marinades. This summer, my husband and I grew yet another version of lemon in the form of spectacular Lemon Boy tomatoes.

Why bother to seek out lemony-tasting foods, rather than just squirt fresh lemon into a dish? Because it's all about nuance. Lemon thyme, for instance, carries a subtler flavor of thyme than its traditional counterparts, with a distinct lemony aroma and flavor. Tossed in salads, it's like a touch of spring, and the lemony-scent is less pronounced and sweeter than true lemon juice. Almost the opposite though for lemon verbena, which bears a strong citrus tone, almost like lemon drops, especially with fruits and desserts.

Lemongrass is subtle, more like a waft of lemon blowing off a distant breeze. Its best asset is the ability to function as a low-key, back flavor, than as a sharp citrus blast, which in Vietnam and Thailand comes more from fresh limes and lime leaves.

If you're interested in sparkling up the lemon essence in your cooking without using lemons, give these gifts from Mother Nature a try:

Lemon Cucumber: You may need to grow these round, little gems from seed, as I've yet to locate a national distributor of the mature vegetable. Or perhaps your local farmers market carries them. One heirloom variety of this cucumber dates back to 1894. Best when harvested at about gold-ball size (though they will grow to about 3 inches), it has pale, mild, sweet flesh encased in lemon-colored skin. I've also read about a different variety of cucumber known as Crystal Lemon, which is tangy and lemon-sized, but I've yet to try it.

Lemon Boy Tomatoes: Pretty as they are, yellow tomatoes aren't always the most flavorful. Not so with Lemon Boy, a successful hybrid that's consistently lemon-colored, sweet, round, and great for salads and slicing. The lemony flavor is pronounced without being tart or acidic, and the color is outstanding.

Lemon Verbena: You probably knew that corn, avocados, and potatoes originated the Americas, but did you know that the lovely lemon verbena was native to Argentina and Chile? This leafy herb, actually a shrub, traveled to Europe via the 17th Century Spanish explorers, where it became more popular than in North America. At least, until recently. Cooks and chefs are infusing all sorts of desserts and sauces with its aromatic essence.

Anyone remember the old Trini Lopez hit: "Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat..." Give these lemony alternatives a try and see how they make your cooking sing.


    Alternative Lemon Recipes


Kate's Global Kitchen for September 2003:
9/05/03     Looks Can Be Deceiving: Specialty Fruit and Produce
9/12/03     Squash Blossom Fever
9/19/03     Eating Well: It's All in Who You Know
9/26/03     Lemons in Hiding


Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.


Current Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Global Kitchen Archive

Kitchen Gypsy


This page created September 2003


The Global Gourmet
The Global Gourmet®
Main Page


Chinese New Year
Celebrate Chinese &
Lunar New Year

   Clip to Evernote

Bookmark and Share


Twitter: @KateHeyhoe

Search this site:

Advanced Search
Recent Searches


Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Books
Cookbook Profiles
Global Destinations
Holiday & Party Recipes
I Love Desserts
On Wine

Caffeine and You Caffeine and You
cooking kids Cooking with Kids
new green basics New Green Basics

Conversions, Charts
   & Substitutions

About the
Global Gourmet®
   Contact Info
   Privacy Statement

Recent Cookbooks

Cooking Italian
175 Home Recipes
4-Hour Chef
Bakery Cookbook
Barefoot Contessa
Bouchon Bakery
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Cake Mix Doctor
Comfort Food
Craft of Coffee
Crazy Sexy Kitchen
Daily Cookie
Fifty Shades Chicken
French Slow Cooker
Frontera - Rick Bayless
Gluten-Free Quick & Easy
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Kitchen Science
Lidia's Favorite Recipes
Make-Ahead and Freeze
Modern Milkshakes
Modernist Cuisine
Mystic Cookbook
Paleo Slow Cooking
Picky Palate
Pop Bakery
Practical Paleo
Quick Family Cookbook
Sensational Cookies
Smitten Kitchen
Southern Living Recipes
Sweet Life in Paris
Trader Joe's Vegetarian
True Food
Whole Larder

More Cookbooks


Kitchen & Home


Copyright © 1994-2013,
Forkmedia LLC



cat toys Catnip Toys

Kitchen & Home