Term Paper, 2002
14 Pages, Grade: B+
Lemon – A brief history
Lemon – where to find it?
It is not very clear where the lemon has its origin. Citrus fruits have been cultivated in southern China and Southeast Asia for approximately 4000 years (apparently a lemon-shaped earring was found in the Indus-valley dating back to 2500 BC). Between 400 and 600 BC the lemon (the scientific name of the tree is Citrus lemon) was introduced into the Middle East, one can find old Oriental stories where this fruit is mentioned. It were Arab traders in Asia who brought then around AD100 and 700 citrus fruits into Eastern Africa and the Middle East, after that they planted lemons in the Sahara, Andalusia and Sicily, bringing the lemon to Southern Europe during their occupation of Spain (in Pompeii a mosaic was found showing a lemon, but botanists argue that it became popular first in the Middle Ages probably through crusaders).
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Christopher Columbus carried the fruit then into the new discovered continent, known as America, where it spread rapidly. Portuguese traders came back to Europe with new varieties from Southeast Asia in the 16th century. 2 centuries later then, citrus fruits had been distributed and known all over the world. In the 1890s physicians discovered that drinking juice of citrus fruits could cure scurvy, a vitamin deficiency disease. Further efforts by scientists resulted in the knowledge that this juice had positive effects because of its high vitamin C content. Furthermore there are other substances present such as vitamin A, vitamin B and some other minerals beneficial for the human body. People used lemons for flavouring foods and drinks, bleaching printings on cotton, production of perfume as well as medicine. Even before that lemons were used, for example the ladies of Louis XIV`s court reddened their lips with lemons or to express wealth. All these new discoveries of the positive effects of lemons made the fruit popular. Today about 25% of the world’s lemon production is raised in the United States, mostly in southern and central California (the earliest lemon-record in America is from 1493 in Haiti when Columbus arrived).
[illustration not visible in this excerpt]The lemon tree is not the easiest plant to grow. It is sensitive to cold conditions, relishes enough warmth, but less than other citrus plants. It needs sufficient water but is not found in regions with too much rain. It prefers a soil which is a rich sandy loam one, what gives the fruit a splendid hue. Ideal conditions (12° to 38°C, 200-300m above sea level) are found in the subtropical areas of southern California and the Mediterranean region. Once one has found conditions in which the tree feels comfortable it grows and flourishes.
The lemon tree itself is closely related to the lime and citron, which are all part of the same family of plants called Rut-acea, and which all are so called nippled fruits. The plant reaches a height of 4,5 m and produces scented lemons and white blossoms all year long. An adult plant can get 80 years old and produce 200 to 600 fruits per year.
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The tree has got coriaceous ovate-oblong leaves with sharp tops.
In the beginning of march or April it develops smelly white 5-fingery blossoms. The fruit, a berry or berry fruit, has got a round-oval shape consisting out of different layers. The epicarp (outer shell) is rich of cells containing oils and aromatic alcohols. The mesokarp (middle shell) is a dry, white foamy [illustration not visible in this excerpt]substance. In the core of the lemon there is the endocarp (the fruit flesh) which is divided into 6 to 12 parts containing the juice and seeds.
The harvest is done three times a year, and mostly manually and not by machines in order not to damage the fruit by destroying the cells in the outer shell, which would cause browning and a bad texture.
Out of all lemons grown in the United States 80% come from California. In the 19th century Florida was the main US lemon producer until the cold wave of 1894/1895 destroyed the local lemon industry. Also it seems that (at least today) the lemon tree does not like the humidity of Florida.
Generally lemons grow well along rain-free coastal areas. So one could mention for example Sicily, which produces 90% of all lemons consumed in Italy. Lemons are also grown in Southern France and Spain, Israel and Greece as well as India.
[illustration not visible in this excerpt]Vitamins are organic substances, from which our body needs only very little amounts. Normally are Vitamins gained from foods and beverages, especially fruits and vegetables, because man can not produce its own Vitamin C. It is an important part of a healthy diet, and an average adult should have at least an intake of 10-12 grams of Vitamin C per day.
Lemons contain about 50 mg of pure Vitamin C in only 100g of lemon. In all fruits and vegetables, have their main source of vitamins in the peel. It often contains a much higher concentration of Vitamins than the juice, flesh or pulp. Often are the Vitamins damaged during the preparation process, chopping, cooking and boiling are all methods which release the Vitamins out of the cells, or destroy them. Actually, the ascorbic acid (a white, crystalline substance) in the plant or fruit comes into contact with the enzymes and this process by cutting or cooking destroys the ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is very water soluble, losses during the cooking process can be avoided by reducing the use of water, or leave skins on fruits and vegetables. But generally the Vitamin content in our food is high enough in a healthy diet for the daily supply.
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