This column was originally published in the Hamilton County Herald on January 2, 2015.
The phrase “making lemonade” expresses entrepreneurial abilities and triumph over adversity. In this week’s article, though, it means just what it says. If you think lemonade is only a summertime drink, let me give you a few facts on how healthy it is for you in the wintertime. It might become one of your favorite winter drinks – right up there with hot chocolate!
Lemons offer substantial health benefits, from soothing a cold (there’s nothing better than a hot lemon drink when you’re feeling bad) to serving as the core ingredient in many natural health and beauty products. Originally found in Northern India, and referred to as “the golden apple,” they were prized for their wonderful flavor and aroma. Today, we continue to discover beneficial ways in which to use them.
A lemon’s bitterness comes from its high citric acid level, which performs a variety of small wonders: it slows oxidation in cut fruit; wards off scurvy; changes milk into buttermilk; removes stains and odors from your hands; “cooks” fish without heat; and discolors aluminum pans (which is something you might want to avoid)!
Lemons are excellent sources of vitamin C, the B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, iron, and manganese. It’s also a natural antioxidant, and the whole fruit contains more pectin than any other citrus.
The chemical composition of a lemon provides a natural defense against infection by naturally stimulating the development of white corpuscles, improving the body’s ability to defend itself against infection. The anti-viral properties of lemons help us recover from the flu.
Colds and sore throats
Lemon juice is excellent for colds and sore throats, and its vitamin C levels help to boost the immune system, and its astringent and antiseptic qualities promote healing. Drinking tea with lemon and honey relaxes and soothes the throat while relieving a cough.
Mix one part lemon juice with two parts honey. (Do not give this syrup to children under one year old.)
The secret to good lemonade is to use simple syrup. The sugar is completely dissolved and blends with the tart lemon. Make larger amounts at one time, then refrigerate.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Blend well in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves completely. Let cool and refrigerate.
Mix simple syrup with the juice from six to eight lemons and stir. Add four cups of cold water if desired, or sparkling water for fizz. Add thin lemon slices to the lemonade. Freeze some of the lemonade in ice cube trays and then use the cubes in the lemonade so it doesn’t dilute. Serves six.
Luscious lemon bars
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Powdered sugar for dusting
To prepare the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one eight-inch pan with foil. Toast sliced almonds in skillet over medium heat for three to five minutes, or until lightly browned. Set three tablespoons aside and chop the rest. Whisk together the flour, sugar, almond extract, salt, and chopped almonds. Cut in butter until the mixture is dry and crumbly. Press the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle the mixture with the reserved sliced almonds, pressing them into the crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden.
To make the filling, combine the sugar and flour, and then whisk in the eggs. Add the lemon juice and zest. Pour the mixture over the warm crust and dust with powdered sugar. Return to oven; bake until the filling no longer jiggles – about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on the rack. Remove from the pan, cut into squares, and dust with powdered sugar.
Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. v