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Persian Sweet Lemons
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Persian Sweet lemons are medium-sized round fruit, averaging 5 centimeters in diameter, with slightly yellowish-green skin that matures to a warm yellow. The pale yellow flesh is highly fragrant with hints of rose, and houses several seeds. The taste is sweet, more like that of an orange, though within a few hours after cutting, the juice can take on a bitter flavor, similar to grapefruit juice. The thin rind contains essential oils and emits a pleasant, honeyed aroma when rubbed.
Persian Sweet lemons are available in the fall through early spring.
Persian Sweet lemons are botanically known as Citrus limetta, though there are some that believe these lemons are simply mutations of Citrus limon. Persian Sweet lemons are also known as Limu Shirin in Iran, and are popular in markets and home gardens for their high vitamin C content, as well as their sweet flavor. They may also be known as Persian Sweet limes, as the terms "sweet lemon" and "sweet lime" are used interchangeably in some languages.
Persian Sweet lemons are high in vitamin C and offer immune-boosting benefits, making them helpful for treating the common cold. They also contain vitamin A, predominately in their rind, as well as a good amount of folate.
Persian Sweet lemons are used in raw and cooked applications. Their sweet flavor is not the result of higher sugar content, but rather a lack of acidity. Enjoy raw Persian Sweet lemons immediately after opening or juicing, as the flavor can become somewhat bitter once exposed to air. The lemon juice can be used in salad dressings and marinades, soups or broths, and in beverages. In Iran, they are used a natural sweetener for tea, or are juiced and enjoyed fresh. Across Persian culture, Persian Sweet lemons are commonly used in Faloodeh or Persian Ice, one of the earliest known frozen deserts in the Middle East, made from rice noodles, rose water, sugar, and lemon juice. Store Persian Sweet lemons at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or refrigerate to extend shelf life up to 2 months. To preserve the flavor of cut Persian Sweet lemons, submerge slices in a simple syrup in an airtight glass container and refrigerate. Fresh juice may also be frozen for up to 6 months.
Persian Sweet lemons are common in the winter in the Middle East as they are used to ward off coughs and colds. They are also a favorited variety for use in traditional Middle Eastern desserts.
Persian Sweet lemons are believed to be native to southern regions of Iran. They are considered "true" sweet lemons as they are direct descendants of citron, and are an acid-less mutation of the sour lemon. The Persian Sweet lemon can be found predominantly in the Middle East and Mediterranean region.