Lemons are a citrus fruit, which means that they’re loaded with delicate, pulpy sacs containing flavorful liquid. The fruit explodes with sweetly tart, sour juice that matches the bright mood of its cheery, yellow color. Lemon has a quintessentially citric acidity, that’s far less sweet than an orange, but tastes sweeter than a lime. Lemons are only somewhat bitter, whereas limes’ bitter flavor is more pronounced.
These special fruits are eaten in countless ways, and used in bajillions of recipes for both food and drink. Ironically, they’re almost never eaten on their own without added ingredients!
It takes some work to coax a lemon from its peel. Lemons are soft fruits and the rind is pliable, but it doesn’t peel away as easily as other citrus fruits like oranges and clementines. The thin, yellow portion of the waxy skin of the lemon is edible, and is typically called “zest”, whether it’s grated or sliced away. The white pith and seeds are inedible and should be discarded. The juicy sections of individual lemon fruit can be eaten raw, although their sour flavor is used more as an ingredient than to be enjoyed on its own.
How to prepare your lemon will depend on the recipe you’re using. Here are the most common ways to prepare lemon for just about any recipe.