Lemon | Limon
Although the origins of lemon are unknown, evidence suggests that they are native to India. Regardless of the origins, lemons have a long and important history. In Northwestern India, lemons has been cultivated for more than 2,500 years. Archaeological evidence suggests that traders introduced the lemons to the Middle East and Africa shortly after 100 AD. It is believed that lemons were brought to Italy in the second century and were being cultivated in Egypt and the Mesopotamian Plains (just south of Turkey) a few centuries later. The ancient Egyptians developed the first lemonade around 500 AD. The beverage, called qatarmizat, was made from lemon juice and sugar. It was so valued that qatarmizat was only allowed to be consumed by the Pharoah and the royal family.
Initially, lemons were not widely cultivated as food. Lemons were considered an ornamental plant until around the 10th century. Lemons were brought to Spain in the 11th century, and by 1150, lemons were widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean. In Europe, the name “lemon” (a derivation of the Persian word limun) first appeared sometime between 1350 – 1400. On August 20, 1630, lemonade was first sold as a soft drink in Paris. It was made with lemon juice, honey and sparkling water. In the 1840s, the first frozen lemonade was introduced in Naples, Italy.
Lemons were introduced to the New World in 1493, when Christopher Columbus brought seeds to Hispaniola. Spanish conquest spread the lemon throughout the Americas. By 1751, lemons were being grown in California. Cultivation in Florida began in the 1800s. Between 1873 and 1876, first lemonade stands were set-up in the Brooklyn streetcars by Edward Bok. The demand for lemons escalated during the 1840’s as a cure for scurvy . The condition, caused by vitamin C deficiency, was particularly prevalent in California Gold Rush miners. They often paid huge prices for a single piece of fruit.
In Turkey, lemons are consumed fresh, preserved, candied and even pickled. Lemon juice is used for limonata (Turkish lemonade), in salads and as an accompaniment to seafood. Additionally, lemons are commonly served with tea and as a condiment for soup.
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