Ingredients: Lemons

This is the start of a new series on ingredients. Once of the first things people notice when they first start any of the VizChef apps are the beautiful photos. We spent a lot of time selecting the best ingredients, creating just the right setting, and finding the best angle for you to see exactly what an ingredient looks like. In this series, we’ll show you some of the ingredients from the various apps. So, we thought it might be appropriate to start with the very first ingredient we shot…lemons.

And yes, we were making lemonade from lemons. Lemonade was actually the first dish we made for the apps and was used for all of the early prototyping and testing. Fortunately, it turns out that lemons and lemon juice appear in all kinds of dishes.


Here’s the text about lemons from VizChef & VizChef Lite v1.0:

Fresh, fragrant lemons rank among the most versatile ingredients to keep on hand. Beyond the obvious use in making lemonade, nearly every part of a lemon can be used as a tart and tangy flavoring agent. The list of baked goods is nearly endless, from pies, to cookies, to cakes with rich lemon frosting. In cooking, lemons and their juice lend the “sour” taste to sweet and sour dishes. Or pair lemon juice with fresh garlic and use it to baste roast chicken – always simple, and always delicious. Citrus juices not only brighten the flavor of many foods, they are packed with Vitamin C. To ensure juiciness, choose lemons that are not bruised or dry looking, and give them a gentle squeeze. Good lemons feel firm to the touch and easily pass the clean, lemony “sniff” test. To further enhance flavor and perk up the appearance of all kinds of dishes, sprinkle bright yellow, finely grated lemon zest on top just before serving.

Categories: citrus, fruit
Storage: about a week at room temperature
Taste: sour, tart, bright
Common Pairings: fish, chicken, crab, pork, lamb, almonds, apples, basil, capers, honey, limes, mint, oranges, oregano, black pepper, poppy seeds, raspberries, rosemary, sugar, thyme, vodka
Common Cuisines: Greek, Middle Eastern
Common Preparation: juice, slice, wedge, zest
Grown: on trees
Available: year-round
Growing Regions: India, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil
US Growing Regions: California (plus Florida & Arizona)

On a related note, we often get asked, “Out of all the dishes you could have made first, why lemonade?” First, it was relatively simple…just a few ingredients, only a couple pieces of equipment, and a few steps. However, lemonade is deceivingly simple. It’s perceived simplicity is actually the second reason it gets selected. To do lemonade well, there are a couple tricks…rolling the lemon before it gets juiced (it brings out more of the juices) and creating a simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water) which keeps the texture smooth rather than gritty. There’s also a third trick…some people actually microwave their lemons briefly before they roll them, and it does actually increase the amount of juice you get. However, the amount is so small and we prefer our juice fresh, so we left that one out. Third, it actually includes specialty equipment, in this case, the reamer. But why we chose the reamer is a topic for another blog series.