Eureka! Perky Pink Lemons

Thirty-five years ago, Lelan Nishek started Kauai Nursery & Landscaping (KN&L). Since then, the one-man operation has grown into a 150-acre property with close to 80 employees, including three of Nishek’s brothers, their families and his daughter Sandy.

KN&L citrus varieties: Kauai Nursery & Landscaping sells citrus varieties that are adapted to Hawaiian conditions. All trees are grafted onto selected rootstock, using virus-free propagation material.

VARIEGATED PINK-FLESHED EUREKA LEMON

The first Eureka lemon grew from seed in 1858 in Los Angeles and was propagated in 1877 by Thomas Garey, who called it Garey’s Eureka. Popularity rapidly increased, in part because the tree is virtually thornless. The University of California lists 14 types of Eureka lemons. Hawaiian varieties include Old Line, Frost Nucellar, Allen-Newman and the variegated, pink-fleshed Eureka.

Season: Trees bear fruit in two to three years. Winter through spring is the main season, but with irrigation, lemons will bear year-round.

What to look for: Select Eureka lemons with smooth skin that’s free of decay, injury, shrivel or discoloration. Ripe lemons should have a pleasant citrus fragrance and be heavy for their size.

Storage: Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Ideally, bring to room temperature before using; this enables you to extract more juice.

Preparation: Lemons and cooking have been intertwined since the beginning of recorded history.

Recipes from ancient Greece, China, Persia and India show the fruit was in demand, although it was not widely cultivated. Originally used both in sweets, with copious amounts of sugar, and in savories, the fruit was added to couscous, dried and used in soups and stews, and later in history, made into alcoholic drinks such as lemoncello. Lemon pickles have been popular in India for more than 1,000 years. Today, slices of lemon are squeezed onto fish or meat, or in iced or hot tea. In Colombia, lemon soup is made by adding slices of lemon to dry bread that has been sautéed until soft and then sieved. Sugar and a cup of wine are added, then the mixture is brought to a boil and served. Lemon juice is primarily used for lemonade, in carbonated beverages or other drinks. It also is used for making pies and tarts, as a flavoring for cakes, cookies, cake icings, puddings, sherbet, confectionery and preserves. A few drops of lemon juice added to cream before whipping gives stability. Lemon peel can be candied at home, preserved in brine and used baked goods.

Health benefits: Lemons are used in aromatherapy, mouthwash, disinfectants, insect repellent and as heartburn relief. Lemon juice is widely known as a diuretic, antiscorbutic, astringent and febrifuge. In Italy, the sweetened juice is given to relieve gingivitis, stomatitis and inflammation of the tongue. Lemon juice in hot water has been advocated widely as a daily laxative and preventive of the common cold, but daily doses have been found to erode the enamel of the teeth. Prolonged use will reduce the teeth to the level of the gums. Lemon juice and honey, or lemon juice with salt or ginger, is taken when needed as a cold remedy. It was the juice of the Mediterranean sweet lemon, not the lime, that was carried aboard British sailing ships in the 18th century to prevent scurvy, though the sailors became known as “limeys.”

Pink Eureka lemons can be found at: Kauai Nursery & Landscaping, 3-1550 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue. For more information, call 245-7747 or visit kauainursery.com. On March 15, KN&L will host a free fruit tree workshop, which includes citrus.

AKAMAI JUICE CO.’S WELLNESS SHOT

Cas Schwabe, owner of Akamai Juice Co., generously shares the recipe for her popular Wellness Shot. In April 2002 I witnessed

Kim Johnson, wife of singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, drink four of Cas’ Hot Shots, which relieved her migraine while Jack was performing at Kauai Community College. To make a Hot Shot, just add one Hawaiian chili pepper. Makes one serving.

* 1 lemon, peeled
* 2 inches fresh ginger
* 2 inches fresh turmeric
* 1 garlic clove

Add ingredients to a blender and liquify. Strain through a cheesemaking bag (available at health food stores) or paint bag (available at Ace Hardware) and drink.

Marta Lane is a Kauai-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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