At Specialty Produce, we go to the literal ends of the earth to forage unique produce and study local lore so we can cultivate education around the influence of food, inside and out of the kitchen.

From the little lime to the plump pomelo, fruits of all shapes and sizes have a story. The rare, sour Shikuwasa lime is rumored to play a vital role in the legendary longevity of Okinawans, while pomelos like Wong and Tahitian are deeply-rooted symbols of prosperity in Chinese culture.

Believe it or not, the innocuous lemon is a secret staple of spies the world over. As far back as 600 CE, lemon juice was used to make invisible ink in the Arab world to deliver covert messages, and by the 16th century, it became popular with cautious Renaissance Italians and European monasteries protecting their trade secrets. The juiciest tale comes from WWI when a group of Germans were caught using lemon ink to send secrets in Britain. One was found with the fruit in his coat pocket, while the raid of another’s home led to even more incriminating evidence—a lemon with pen-poked holes. Those Germans were forever inked in history as the Lemon Juice Spies.

Pink Lemons. Image: Specialty Produce.

Even inside the kitchen, lemons are a versatile staple described as “the little black dress” of fruits, good for all occasions. Flavor desserts with the sweet and floral Meyer lemon, or tenderize meat with Eureka or Lisbon (which are interchangeably marketed as simply “lemons” in standard stores). Use Pink lemons for an authentic pink lemonade, though don’t expect the color to be as vibrant without red dye, grenadine, or the fabled dirty water—the popular pink drink is rumored to have origins in the circus some time in the late 1800s, when a lemonade vendor ran out of clean water and instead used a basin that had just been used to wash a performer’s red tights, dyeing the lemonade pink.

So, what do you do when life gives you lemons? Download the Specialty Produce App to learn more about their unique place in history, on and under the table! 

You can download the Specialty Produce App from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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