Twists on lemons

By Susan Woody

Stuffed into chicken for roasting, zested to enhance cookie and cake batters, preserved in salt to add Middle Eastern flavors and squeezed for lemonade marinades and to lighten hair, lemons are brilliant multitaskers. Here are even more uses.

Air freshener — Simmer a half dozen lemon slices and a handful of cloves in a pan of water. Especially good for removing food odors.

Vegetable enhancer — Toss lemon peel with vegetables when roasting. Squeeze lemon over fennel (and apple or avocado) to maintain color.

Copper polisher — Dip half a lemon in a small dish of coarse salt and rub it over tarnished copper.

Linen whitener — Fill a large pot with water, add a few lemon slices, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, add lemons and let soak for up to an hour. Remove, and launder as usual.

Household cleanser — Mix half a cup of baking soda with enough liquid dish soap to make a paste.

Spread on half a lemon, and use it to scrub basins, bathtubs and stainess steel sinks.

Stain remover — To remove berry, coffee, and tea stains from clothing, soak soiled areas in lemon juice for about an hour. If some of the stain remains, dampen the area, make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water and scrub gently.

Dishwasher detoxer — Place half a lemon in top rack of dishwasher, and run it with dishes to freshen the appliance. (Tossing a lemon wedge into a garbage disposal also eliminates odors.)

Hiccup cure — Biting into a lemon may cure hiccups; the tartness is said to interrupt the nerve impulses that cause diaphragm spasms.

Buying tip — Look for thin-skinned lemons that feel heavy for their size.

Cook’s tip — A bit of lemon juice, red wine vinegar or other acid added to a vegetable soup or minestrone can take it from drab to dazzling. A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens chicken soup.

Susan Woody has been a food writer for over 20 years and is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.

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