Persian Sweet Lemons
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From the outside, the Persian Sweet lemon looks like a Meyer lemon: the fat, round citrus fruit has slightly yellowish-green skin that gives way to a warm yellow glow at maturity. Within, however, the greenish flesh exudes the aroma of roses and the taste is sweet with a flavor more like that of an orange. The rind is very thin, and when rubbed the oils emit a sweet smell. Persian Sweet lemons have several seeds. Within a short period after cutting or biting into the flesh, the juice can take on a bitter flavor, similar to grapefruit juice.
Persian Sweet lemons are available in the fall months through the early spring.
Persian Sweet lemons are also known as limu shirin in Iran and are popular in markets and homes for its high vitamin C content as well as its sweet flavor. Persian Sweet lemons are botanically known as Citrus limetta, though there are some that believe these lemons are truly mutations of Citrus limon. In Tunisia, the Dorshopo sweet lemon is called citron doux, and it is also believed to be a “true” sweet lemon.
Persian Sweet lemons are high in vitamin C and when eaten consistently can help ward off sickness. Common around kitchen tables in the winter in the Middle East, Persian Sweet lemons are used to ward off coughs and colds.
In Iran, Persian Sweet lemons are used often to sweeten tea or are juiced and enjoyed fresh. The sweet flavor requires no additional sugar. If not enjoyed immediately after juicing, the flavor can become somewhat bitter. Persian Sweet lemon juice can also be used in salad dressings and marinades.
There are few named varieties of sweet lemon, and often the terms ‘sweet lemon’ and ‘sweet lime’ are used interchangeably. This is common because some languages do not have different words for lemons and limes. ‘Dorshapo’ is a variety known for its sweet flavor and lack of acidity. It was named for three plant explorers, Dorsett, Shamel and Popenoe who introduced the citrus in the US in 1914. True sweet lemons are acidless mutations of the sour lemon. The Persian Sweet lemon can be found predominantly in the Middle East and Mediterranean region.