Wondering if lemons are fruits or vegetables ? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. More than one person gets confused when they see lemons in the veggie section in one supermarket, and then see them in the fruits section in another supermarket.
Then there’s the whole botanical vs culinary term of fruit and vegetable that’s sparked more than one heated argument within families. So let’s put this all to rest, and see whether lemons are fruit or vegetables.
Is lemon a fruit or vegetable ?
Lemon is a type of fruit, a citrus fruit to be exact. It’s classified as a fruit because it still contains its seeds, and the way it’s used is more similar to fruits than vegetables.
You see lemons used in sweets more often than you see them in savory dishes. Whether it’s lemon juice or lemon rind, its flavor is very common in sweets.
Why are lemons found in the vegetable section ?
The reason you may have been confused is because you sometimes find lemons in the produce section, right next to vegetables. This is not always the case, and it’s more about the supermarket’s way of arranging produce than anything else.
In other supermarkets you’ll see lemons placed next to limes, oranges, kiwis, bananas, apples, and any other fruit you can imagine.
And because lemons can be used in savory dishes sometimes, you may find them in the veggie section but that doesn’t mean anything.
Culinary VS botanical fruits
A very important, scientific reason lemons are classified as fruits is that i’s actually a type of berry ! Yep, lemons and in fact all citrus fruit are a type of berry.
As a berry, it classifies as a fruit because it:
- is the mature ovary of a flower
- has an outer skin to protect the seeds (even if inedible)
- has seeds in the innermost layer
So lemons are botanical fruits, we got that. What about the culinary use ? The way most people use it and the way most folks come to know which food items are fruits, which are vegetables, which are berries, nuts, etc.
The way lemons are used also classifies them as fruits, because they’re used in sweet dishes, more often than in savory dishes. They’re valued for the flavor they bring to a dish, rather than the texture and nutritional content (like potatoes or zucchini or onions, for example).
Read Also:What Makes Beets Red ?
Is lemon a natural fruit ?
Lemon is a hybrid fruit, a man-made fruit that is actually a cross between the bitter orange and citron fruit. Yes, there’s a lot about the citrus family we don’t really know, and we’re going to explore things a bit today.
First, let’s clear things up with the lemons. Lemons are a hybrid between bitter orange and citron. For those who don’t know, the citron is a citrus fruit, one of the main three that were used to produce the citrus fruits we know today.
A citron has a ridiculous amount of pith (the white part under the rind), with the pulp inside barely noticeable and sometimes missing altogether. The outer skin is very fragrant, and varies wildly from smooth to ribbed to rouched to wrinkly.
There’s a variant of citron called Buddha’s hand, because it looks a lot like a hand with (too) many fingers and is very fragrant.
The bitter orange is a cross between a pomelo (not the one we know today) and a mandarin. Some of the citrus fruits we know today are man made hybrids, and some are natural hybrids. The bitter orange is a natural hybrid.
So what about sweet oranges ? If there’s bitter oranges, there must be sweet oranges. Well yes, there are and they’re apparently the same hybrid between pomelo and mandarins, except they’re sweet.
What can you do with lemons ?
There are lots of ways to use a lemon, and it’s up to you which would work best in your case. Aside from the classic lemonade, you can use the rind to get that special lemon flavor without all the sourness from lemon juice. This is actually how lemon ice cream is made.
If you were to add some lemon juice it would break down the milk in the ice cream, and it would curdle. Incidentally, that’s how most fresh cheese is made, like paneer or feta !
Another way to use lemons is to make lemon jam. You need the outer skin, the rind, and you could use some of the pulp if you like. This kind of jam requires a whole lot of lemons but has one of the most amazing flavors out there. All the lemon essential oils are in that jar.
An easier way to get a similar result is to grate some lemon rind into a jar (again, lots of lemons), and add just as much sugar. The sugar will stick to the lemon rind and its lemon oil. Mix them together and store at room temp. It won’t last a year, but will last for at least 3 months.
It makes a wonderful addition to cakes and creams and anything you can think of !