Lemons are the world’s number one travelling fruit. Native to Asia, by the twelfth century they had journeyed to Europe, where they can still be found growing wild in groves around the Mediterranean.
Columbus took lemon seeds to the Americas in 1493, and the Spanish conquest scattered them further across the New World. Contrary to popular belief, it was the nutritious Vitamin C in lemons that saved ‘Limey’ English sailors from scurvy in the 1700s. Thanks to its far-reaching history, this fresh flavoured citrus fruit is now a staple ingredient in cuisines across continents.
But lemons aren’t kept in kitchen cupboards for their flavour and nutrition alone. Their strong scent and solvent properties have been used for centuries to clean and deodorise furniture and fabrics. A halved lemon dipped in baking soda is hailed as a remedy to remove grease and grime from laundry, pots and pans.
Lemons have also made their way into the medicine cabinet. Their juice is a natural antiseptic that can purify water, clean cuts and soothe spotty skin. For millennia, Indian medicine has used lemon leaves to reduce fevers and lemon oil as an antidote to poison.
The small, evergreen lemon tree produces fragrant fruit all year round. The fresh, zesty scent of its fruit is locked in the oil of its peel. This oil is thought to enhance mood, energise a tired body and revive a weary mind. It’s no surprise that lemon is used as a tonic to keep a clear head and build strength, positivity and a fresh zest for life.