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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Squeezing The Lemon

On December 8, 1896, a patent for an improvement in a Lemon Squeezer was issued to African American inventor John T. White. It claimed to make squeezing lemons and straining the juice easier. But, if you notice, the patent was for an improvement in a lemon squeezer. By the end of the 19th Century, a large number of patents on new lemon presses were pending. Most of these patents were between 1880 and 1910. The oldest U.S. patent for a lemon squeezer was issued to Lewis P. Chichester (Louis S. Chichester) on July 3, 1860. It was a model made of cast iron and needed less effort to operate.

The website Vintage Recipes has a picture of a wooden Lemon Squeezer from Miss Parloa's New Cook Book. Her many cookery works were in print from the late 1870s to the 1920s.

A lemon squeezer is a kitchen device for pressing out juice from citrus fruits, such as lemons or limes. The oldest known lemon presses were in the Turkish city of Kütahya found and taken from the first quarter of the 18th Century.

A lemon reamer is a small kitchen utensil used to extract the juice from a lemon or other small citrus fruit. The simplest reamers, which many consider the best, are solid pieces of soft wood.

A reamer is operated by first slicing the fruit in half and holding the fruit in one hand and the reamer in the other. You pierce the fruit with the pointy end of the reamer and with a twisting and grind motion, the juices are extracted.

A lemon zester is a utensil for "grating" the outer skin from lemons and other citrus fruit.

The custom of serving a slice of lemon with fish originally had nothing to do with taste. It dates to the Middle Ages, when it was believed that if a fishbone was swallowed, the juice from the lemon would dissolve it.

Lemons for Health

In traditional medicine, the lemon is widely known for its healing powers and is used in many different ways. In fact, the lemon is so powerful that it was used by the Romans as their cure for all types of poison.

Lemons have rightfully earned their fame as a health giving food. Their use in the healing arts dates back to the very beginning of medicine. In China, more than a thousand years ago, they were designated as the "king of fruit." In Western countries, they were credited with having conquered scurvy. Today, they are the center of interest in world wide studies dealing with increasing the immunity to many diseases. No other single fruit has had such wide application to health preservation and restoration as the lemon. (from the booklet Sunkist Lemons copyright 1939, California Fruit Growers Exchange)

Most of the health benefits listed in this booklet many of us have heard of before. I would like to highlight a few.

Lemons are a foremost source of vitamin C, originally known as the "scurvy preventing" vitamin. They are now regarded as additionally valuable for still another essential (vitamin P) known chemically as citrin. Lemons are also a good source of vitamin B and contain vitamin A. The latter is associated with the yellow color of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin P in lemon strengthens the blood vessels and prevents internal hemorrhage. It also heals cataracts, decreases bile production, alleviates herpes and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Albert Szent-Gyorgi, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1937, worked with vitamin C extracted from lemons. He later went on to isolate flavonoids, a group of compounds he called "vitamin P."

Charles Richet another Nobel Prize winner, is said to have discovered that lemon juice added to raw oysters before eating them destroys 92% of the bacteria present within 15 minutes.

Minerals: Despite their acid taste, lemons produce an alkaline reaction in the body. They contribute to the needed mineral supplies of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium...Our bodies need hundreds of minerals, in minute quantities - especially in summertime, when we lose them through sweat. Muscular soreness, marks on your fingernails, weight loss/gain with no apparent cause, hormone imbalances, metabolism, skin tone, immunity, and a host of other seemingly unrelated symptoms and issues can be attributed to various mineral deficiencies. source
The essence of lemon is second to none in its antiseptic and bactericidal properties. The works of Medicos Morel and Rochaix have demonstrated that the vapours of lemon essence neutralize the meningococcus in 15 minutes, the typhus bacillus in less than an hour, pneumococcus in 1-3 hours, Staphylococcus aureus in 2 hours and haemolytic streptococcus in 3-12 hours. The essence itself neutralises the typhus bacillus and staphylococcus in 5 minutes and the diphtheric bacillus in 20 minutes. A few drops of lemon will rid an oyster of 92% of its micro-organisms in 15 minutes. source

I have another interesting little booklet also published by the California Fruit Growers Exchange titled Recipes for Dainty Dishes; Culinary Toilet and Medicinal Hints (undated) which offers other uses for lemons. In the section titled On Her Dressing Table, under Better Than Soap, we find this:

Nothing will clean soiled grimy hands, nails, or face, so squickly and completely as a piece of lemon. rub it over them and rinse off with water. It will also remove ink or fruit stains from the skin.

From the book: Queen Wilhelmina has adopted a custom from Dutch India, and attributes a great deal of the satin like softness of her skin to the refining and cleansing influence of the lemon baths in which she has indulged for some months, upon the advice of the wife of one of her colonial governors. The bath is prepared as follows:

Five Sunkist lemons cut into slices, are left to soak in a basin of water for half an hour. The water drawn into the bath must be moderately hot, but not warm enough to be enervating, and the lemon water is added to it slowly, the whole being stirred vigorously the while, as is the mode when making cocoa. There is no objection to a few slices of the lemon peel being allowed in the mixture.

I found this zesty "peel" at the Sunkist website.

Sunkist is a cooperative - a not-for-profit company. Sunkist is one of the 10 largest marketing cooperatives in America and the largest marketing cooperative in the world's fruit and vegetable industry.

I just can't leave without including a recipe. This recipe for Lemon Cake Top Pudding, will form a cake top with a layer of custard below. That's what the recipe states. I haven't tried it myself but Jady over @ Cucina Panzano did and it looks heavenly!

Lemon Cake Top Pudding
2 tbs. flour2 egg yolks beaten
3/4 cup sugar1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbs. butter1 cup milk
Cream flour, sugar and butter. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, and milk. Fold in 2 egg whites stiffly beaten. Bake in 8 inch pudding dish or individual custard cups (not buttered), set in a pan of warm water. Bake 35 minutes in 350 degree oven. Serves 4-6

Resources

1. The Amazing Health Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

1 comment:

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