Alternative Uses for Lemons and Nutrition Info

lemons. Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill

We don't always have to rely on cleaning products for our household chores. In fact, lemons are awesome to use in places other than the kitchen. Here are some suggestions for other uses for lemons, that will save you money, keep your house clean and safe - and of course why you should eat lemons as well!

Perk Up Produce and Prevent Clumpy Rice

Refresh and preserve produce. Lemons are a perfect way to perk up produce. Try adding limp lettuce to a bowl of cold water with lemon juice and put in the refrigerator for an hour. This will bring back the crispiness and save the lettuce from being wasted. A little lemon juice also will help keep cut apples, potatoes, pears and cauliflower from browning and of course, will keep your guacamole and pesto green.

Prevent clumpy rice. When cooking rice, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the pot while the water's boiling to keep grains from sticking together. Lemon helps prevent sticky rice, as do other citrus fruit, which helps separate grains.

Use Lemons to Clean

Have a cheese grater you just can’t clean? Use a half of a lemon, rub the pulp side along both sides in to clean the grates and keep them sharp. The acid in the lemon will help break down the fat in the cheese. If the food is really stuck, dip the lemon in table salt and the salt will act as a scrubber; combined with the lemon it will remove most foods.

Lemons can also be used to clean your microwave. Combine a few tablespoons of lemon juice and at least a cup of water- microwave on high for five minutes, and wipe down the inside of the microwave. The steam and compounds from the lemon will help loosen stuck on spills while leaving a fresh scent.

Toss small slices in the garbage disposal with cool running water to clean and freshen. You can also use lemons to help you clean your dishes! The citric acid helps cut grease and oils; squeeze some lemon juice over a greasy pan or fill with hot water and add a lemon wedge. Let sit. If you have a real buildup, use the lemon juice or half lemon with sea salt.

Some Additional Tips

The best way to store lemons is in a well-ventilated, cool area for 2-3 days, then refrigerate. Lemon juice and zest both freeze well.

And if you don't want to use lemons around the house, you should eat them! They are rich in vitamin C and phytonutrients. Specifically limonoids, which have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.

Where did lemons originate? Lemons were originally developed as a cross between the lime and the citron and are thought to have originated in China or India, and have been cultivated in these regions for about 2,500 years. Their first introduction to Europe was their introduction to Spain in the 11th century.

Fun US historical fact: Lemons, like other vitamin C rich fruits, were highly prized by the miners and developers during the California Gold Rush ​since they were used to protect against scurvy. They were in such demand that people were willing to pay up to $1 per lemon, a price that would still be considered costly today and was extremely expensive back in 1849!