Is Lemon a Fruit or Vegetable?


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Some people say lemons are fruits, others say they are vegetables. But does it really matter?

This article will answer the question – Is lemon a fruit or vegetable?

In this article I’ll explain whether you refer to lemons as fruits or vegetables. And I’ll also tell you how to make sure you get the most out of lemons possible. 

Whether tart or sweet, lemons are well-loved in any number of culinary dishes and beverages. But when you visit a grocery store, you may find them in the fruit section or located in the vegetable section.

Is Lemon a Fruit or Vegetable?

Botanists classify lemons as a citrus fruit. Plant parts are considered fruit if they are seed-bearing parts that have developed from a flowering plant’s ovary. 

Vegetables are all the other edible parts of plants, including stalks, stems, leaves, tubers, and roots.

Half and Whole Lemons

Why Are Lemons Fruit?

Lemons are a fruit because they contain seeds that are used for reproductive purposes.  They are what is defined as “fleshy or dry ripened ovaries of a plant that produces flowers”.

Two to five years after the planting of a lemon seed, the lemon tree will be sufficiently mature to produce fragrant blooms.

Lemon tree branches contain both male and female flowers. If these flowers are successfully pollinated, lemons containing seeds will appear in their place.

Lemons first appear as small green berries and gradually turn yellow as they mature and ripen. Does that mean lemons are berries too?

Are Lemons Classified as Berries?

Yes, lemons are classified as berries. When discussing a berry in botanical terms, a berry is characterized by three separate layers in its composition:

  • The outer skin – known as the exocarp
  • The fleshy middle – called the mesocarp
  • The inner part – which contains seeds also called the endocarp

To be classified as a berry, a fruit must feature an outer protective structure, which can be skin, fuzz, or an outer peel. The lemon’s peel would be identified as the exocarp. A lemon’s white pith or rind just underneath the peel is identified as the mesocarp, and the fleshy, citrus inside lemon meat with the seeds is the endocarp.

Also, for a fruit to be considered a berry, it should have two or more seeds inside and must develop from a single flower with a single ovary.

Based on the botanical definition of a berry, the lemon meets all the requirements of being classified as a berry. 

Lemon Trees

Is Lemon a Natural Fruit?

Botanically known as Citrus limon, the lemon is not a naturally occurring fruit, so it cannot be considered natural. The lemon is a man-made hybrid fruit, meaning that it is the result of the genetic crossbreeding of two other fruits. 

Lemons are the result of the crossbreeding of citron with bitter orange. Many of today’s citrus fruits are a result of crossbreeding with the citrus fruit. The citron fruit is characterized by a lot of white rind or pith and little or no pulp.

The other parent fruit, the bitter orange, is also a hybrid product of the crossbreeding of mandarin orange and pomelo. The difference lies in that the lemon is a man-made fruit, while the bitter orange is a naturally occurring hybrid.

Learn more in this article – Are Lemons Man-Made?

How to Use Lemons

The well-known saying “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, doesn’t really take into account the numerous and varied uses of this favorite among sour fruits.

The vivid yellow fruit contains 100% of the recommended daily vitamin C requirement and aids in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as burning fat, and that’s just for starters.

A lemon’s zingy flavor is at home in fish dishes, perfect in a gin and tonic, refreshing in summery lemonade, and delicious in cakes, pies, and ice cream. But the lemon’s uses go far beyond culinary uses and simple vitamin content.

Here are some innovative ways to using lemons on a daily basis. 

Use Lemons as a Cleaner

If you like the idea of a natural, non-chemical cleaner to use at home, consider lemons as a viable alternative to cleaning products.

For Stainless Steel

By using a bit of salt and half of a lemon, you can clean stainless steel, whether a sink or a pot, and it will help to keep drains smelling fresh.

For Your Microwave

Do you have gunk in your microwave? Microwave a bowl of water with lemon juice and lemon peels in the bowl for 3 minutes. Then let it sit for another 5 minutes before opening the door. 

Voila! That will loosen up the gunk in the microwave, so you can sponge away.

For Plastic

Deodorize your plastic food containers by rubbing them with half a lemon.

In the Bathroom

Clean bathroom fittings, chrome fittings, and tiles with ¼ cup of baking powder and lemon juice. Make a paste and apply it with a toothbrush. Mold and mildew will disappear.

Use Lemons in the Kitchen

Keep Vegetables from Turning Brown

Want to keep your cauliflower from turning brown? Drizzle lemon juice over the cauliflower’s florets before cooking. The same is true for guacamole, which should remain green and not turn brown. Add a squeeze of lemon to keep that green vibrant and add to the taste.

Clean your Chopping Board

Chopping boards are hard to clean because they are porous, so not only do they absorb bacteria and germs, but chemicals as well when cleaned with industrial products. To get your board clean after use, rub a half lemon on the board, and then pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It will come out super clean.

Revive Wilting Lettuce

Revive your lettuce if it looks like it’s wilting. Add the juice of a single lemon into a bowl of water. Add in your wilted lettuce and place the bowl in the fridge. When you take the bowl out your lettuce should be crispy anew.

Clean Your Cheese Grater

Cleaning a cheese grater efficiently is always a challenge. When you’ve finished with the cheese, grate some lemon before rinsing for a sparkling grater.

Refresh Your Hands

If you’ve been preparing onion, garlic, or the like, your hands will inevitably smell. Rub your hands with a slice of lemon to remove undesirable odors.

Make Flavored Ice Cubes

Imagine freezing lemon juice, fruit pieces, or slices in ice cube trays or muffin trays. They add your attractive cubes to punches, water, lemonade, or drinks for a twist. You can add in other fruit pieces and mint if the flavor tweaks your taste buds.

Lemon and Ginger Tea

Use Lemons to Improve Health

Lemons as a Face Cleanser

Whether in a mask with green tea, or massaging a lemon half onto your facial skin, lemons are known to hydrate, cleanse, and fight bacteria and infections.

Lemons in a Foot Scrub

Sea salt, lemon rind, and peppermint oil will make a soothing foot scrub to revive and refresh feet at the end of a long day.

Lemon Water

Drink a glass of water with lemon juice at the start of every day to flush out toxins, balance pH, and boost your immune system. It can suppress hunger, is mildly diuretic, and reduces bloating. The potassium in lemons also helps to lower blood pressure.

Lemon is a Fruit Final Thoughts

Lemons are classified as a fruit and a berry. No matter what you want to classify them as, they offer a number of benefits and uses. 

You might be interested in these other looks at fruits and vegetables: 

Fast Growing Trees and Plants

Photo of author

Written by:

Denise Davis
Denise Davis is an avid gardener, deeply rooted in growing organic veggies and crafting homemade fertilizers. She cherishes the earthy essence of composting and the continuous learning that gardening provides. Denise sees gardening as a holistic activity, offering physical and mental benefits alongside the joy of consuming what you cultivate. Her passion is to inspire others to embrace gardening as a rewarding, healthful lifestyle.

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