We all know lemons are delicious, adding a citrusy kick to everything from salad dressings to cocktails. And the laundry list of health benefits is seriously impressive - not only does the fruit contain antibacterial properties that cleanse the kidneys and liver and strengthen your immune system, but it offers a hefty dose of vitamin C and antioxidants that fight free-radicals and help keep you looking younger.
What fewer people know is that lemons also have some unexpected uses. Here are seven ways the handy fruit can solve your trickiest kitchen dilemmas and help enhance your meals.
* Prevent browning: A few squeezes of juice can do wonders for avocado, apples, bananas, and peeled raw potatoes, since lemon juice is just acidic enough to prevent the oxidation that turns produce brown. Try this trick the next time you're doing meal prep ahead of time or when you set out a platter of fresh sliced fruit for dipping in a Chocolate Fondue.
* Stop rice from sticking: Have a problem with clumpy rice? You're in luck - adding a few drops of lemon to your cooking water helps prevent the rice from sticking together. Added plus? The lemon juice will also whiten your rice and keep it looking great on the dinner plate! Try this tip with our Green Tea Rice recipe.
* Keep brown sugar soft: The juice isn't the only useful part of the lemon; its super moist and flavorful peel can work wonders in the kitchen too. Add a slice of the skin (with the pulp completely removed) to your box of brown sugar to keep it from clumping and hardening. This way, you won't have to do any sifting the next time you make our Old-Fashioned Apple-Nut Crisp.
* Crisp your lettuce: No need to toss that limp lettuce! A little lemon juice and water can help bring your leaves back to life. To crisp up limp leaves, soak them in a bowl of cold water and ½ cup of lemon juice, then refrigerate for about an hour. The leaves will come out revived and ready for eating. Try it out on a simple green salad topped with our Roasted Garlic Dressing.
* Cook perfect hard-boiled eggs: Even if you've mastered perfectly hard-boiled eggs, try brushing the eggshells with lemon juice before adding them to the pot for a little added insurance. The lemon juice helps keep the shells from cracking while they cook, and it also makes them easier to peel once they're ready to eat. Try this technique before you enjoy the eggs in our Golden Polenta and Egg With Mustard Sauce.
* Tenderize meat: Lemon juice is a great meat tenderizer; the acidity gently breaks down the fibers in meat, leaving it scrumptiously fork-tender. See it in action with Steak Salad-Stuffed Pockets.
* Enhance flavor: Last, but certainly not least, lemon's yummy flavor can totally transform a meal. It brightens up creamier dishes, balances the flavor in seafood, and is a great sodium-free substitute for sprinkling on salt. Squeeze lemons over our Sizzled Citrus Shrimp, try them sliced with our Lemon Lovers' Asparagus, and get zesty with Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms and Basil.
The writer is a journalist & online activist. The write-up has appeared on www.everydayhealth.com
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