The Eureka lemon and the Lisbon lemon are two bitter-flavored lemons.
The Eureka and the Lisbon can be used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes. They can be used in sauces or as an accompaniment to fish and poultry. They can be used in baking and desserts, and their slices or wedges can be used as a garnish.
The juice of the Eureka and Lisbon lemons can be used to tenderize meat, as a substitute for vinegar in dressings, and as a flavoring in drinks.
The zest of the Eureka and Lisbon lemons—the yellow part of their peel—can used to add flavor when cooking and baking.
The Eureka and Lisbon lemons are so similar in flavor, aroma and acidity that they sometimes are lumped together in marketing.
But they do have their differences, and there are ways to tell them apart.
The Eureka lemon is more knobby and thicker-skinned than the Lisbon. The Eureka has a short neck at the stem end.
The Lisbon lemon is smoother and has a thinner skin than the Eureka. The stem end of the Lisbon does not have a neck, but the opposite end—the blossom end—tapers to a slight point.
The Eureka contains some seeds while the Lisbon is usually seedless.
The Eureka lemon contains a moderate amount of juice, and the Lisbon lemon contains more juice than the Eureka.
Both the Eureka and the Lisbon are grown primarily for their acidic juice. They are often contrasted to the Meyer lemon which has a sweeter-mild flavor. (The Meyer lemon is not a true lemon but a hybrid between a lemon and either an orange or a mandarin and therefore has lower acidity and less bitterness.)
Eureka and Lisbon lemons ripen naturally in the fall and winter. You will find them fresh harvested at your farm market now.
Choose. Select lemons that are close grained, bright yellow in color, and have a shine to their skin. Lemons should be plump and firm and heavy for their size. Heavy, thin-skinned lemons will contain the most juice.
Lemons that are tinged green tend to be more acid and will not contain as much juice. Avoid lemons with wrinkled skin or those with soft or hard patches. They will be over mature. Dull skinned lemons are no longer fresh.
Store. Eureka and Lisbon lemons can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (The Meyer lemon will keep for 1 week.) Lemons stored at room temperature will keep for about 1 week. The juice and zest of lemons can be frozen.
Lemon flavor affinities. Artichokes, capers, cumin, fennel, fish, garlic, mint, poultry, raspberries, shellfish, thyme.
Prepare. Lemons are rarely eaten raw. Use lemon juice to replace vinegar in dressings, to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry, fish and game, and as a thirst quenching ingredient in teas and other drinks.
Lemon zest can be used as a flavoring in meats, sauces, desserts.
Lemons can be used as a substitute for salt.
Kitchen tip. The ascorbic acid in lemons can be used to prevent the discoloring of the flesh of fruits and vegetables that oxidize when exposed to the air. Rub the cut surfaces of low acid fruits and vegetables—such as bananas, peaches and avocadoes– with lemon juice to delay oxidation and darkening.
Nutrition. Lemons are very rich in vitamin C and also provide potassium and folic acid.
Lemon facts and trivia. It is thought that lemons are native to northwest India where they have been in cultivation for more than 2,500 years.
Arab traders in Asia carried lemons to eastern Africa and the Middle East between 100 and 700 AD. Arabs introduced the lemon into Spain in the eleventh century. Crusaders returning from Palestine spread the lemon across the rest of Europe.
The lemon came into culinary use in Europe in the fifteenth century, and Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to the New World in 1493.
The botanical name for lemon is Citrus limon.