When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemon bombs. Instead, figure out what type of lemons it gave you, set aside the best ones, and THEN burn life’s house down with the rest.
There are literally dozens of lemon varieties out there, many of which have specific qualities that set them aside for particular recipes or have better juice or pulp content. They are often classified into small, medium, or large varieties. Growers, meanwhile, prefer to classify them based on whether the lemon tree is thorny or thornless.
However, the most important way to classify lemons is into true lemons (AKA limons) and false lemons (AKA citron). These two categories come from closely related genii but have slightly different qualities which can set them apart, especially in the culinary world.
Here are 25 different varieties of lemons, many of which you’ve probably never heard of.
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Types of Lemons
A major crop from Florida, the Avalon (or Avon) lemon resembles those you would find in a typical grocery store. However, their main draw is for use in creating lemon juice concentrates.
2. Baboon Lemon
This almost pear-shaped lemon has bright yellow skin but an almost lime-like flavor. It’s a popular ingredient for sauces.
This can be a confusing one, as the name of this lemon cultivar is also the name of a lime cultivar. They’re a popular variety among growers in both Florida and Brazil. The thin skin i backed with lemon oil, and the interior has plenty of tasty flesh.
4. Buddha’s Hand
Sometimes referred to as finger lemons, this is likely the preferred fruit of Cthulhu. It begins as a normal lemon, then breaks into a mass of long, fingerlike protrusions halfway down.
The fruit is considered a sign of good luck in China and is often used in religious offerings.
These lemons are more of an orange color than more common lemons and have a bumpy, wrinkly appearance. Native Australians sometimes refer to it as rough lemon as a result.
The stronger flavor makes it a great ingredient, although this variety doesn’t have a lot of juice.
While not a true lemon, citrons are a close relative that have the sourness of a lemon mixed with a more orange-like flavor. The outward appearance is very similar to standard lemons, while the inside has less pulp content.
This species isn’t tiny, with the fruit often growing as heavy as 10 pounds or more.
This Brazilian cultivar had a green rind and more mild flavor than more common lemons.
While its appearance is that of a common lemon, eureka lemons have the unusual quality of being sweet. The cultivar was created in California in 1857, but is now popular throughout much of the world.
The high amount of oils in its rind make it a popular choice for recipes requiring lemon zest. Additionally, the trees produce fruit throughout the year, making them a great choice for commercial orchards.
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One of the oldest varieties to be cultivated in Italy, this medium lemon makes up a full third of Italy’s lemon produce. It has an acidic flavor and thick rind.
Limoncello is a type of liquor originating in Southern Italy that is often made with femminello lemons.
10. Fino Citron
Small and highly acidic, these lemons have a great flavor. Unfortunately, growers are reluctant to cultivate them due to the large thorns that protect the trees.
The Genoa lemon (sometimes pronounced “Genova”) is very similar to the Eureka in terms of rind, shape, and juice content. It’s a catch-22 for many growers because its smaller shrub-like tree is covered in thorns, but can be grown in colder climates than most lemon species.
This cross-cultivar is named for its primary purpose: to make lemonade. It’s actually an Australian hybrid between lemon and mandarin that’s far more juicy than its Indian counterpart.
The fruit has a strong scent, while the pulp and juice has a sweeter lemon flavor than more common species. While the tree itself is fairly large and highly productive, a dwarf version is available in the US and other countries that’s small enough to grow in a container.
A type of diet, the Master Cleanse (or lemonade diet), is based off the consumption of a lemonade type beverage.
Popular in southern Asia and the Mediterranean, this species has a sweet flavor and is usually enjoyed straight from the tree.
Chances are, when you buy lemons at the local grocer, you’re buying Lisbons. These juicy true lemons look similar to the eureka but have an acidic taste and the rinds are full of vitamin C and lemon oil.
They’re one of the most popular lemon species for indoor growers, but only produce fruit twice per year.
One of the most popular varieties in the world, this Chinese lemon is actually a cross-cultivar of citron and mandarin. The trees are smaller than those of the eureka lemon, but are more cold-hardy. Meanwhile, the fruits are plump and full of sweet, juicy flesh.
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16. Persian Sweet Lemon
This unusual variety looks like a Meyer lemon on the outside but the pulp is sweetly acidic, much like that of a sour orange. Meanwhile, the juice is more sour, resembling that of a grapefruit.
17. Pink Variegated
Perhaps the strangest type of lemon, the pink variegated is easy to spot due to its green and yellow striping which makes it look like a tiny watermelon. Inside, the flesh is an orange pink, similar to that of a pink grapefruit.
The variety was a mutation first recorded in Burbank, California during the 1930s and is used to make pink lemonade.
This hybrid cultivar is a cross between lemon and pomelo. The fruits have a thick, bumpy rind and acidic flesh that produces large quantities of delicious juice. Perfect for baking, the trees are considered an ornamental and can be container-grown in colder climates.
Arguably the most popular Spanish species, these bright yellow lemons produce a high juice yield. Despite this higher content, they’re actually smaller than Verna lemons.
20. Rough Lemon
This Indian citrus hybrid is a cross-cultivar between lemon and mandarin. It has a rough, round yellow-green rind full of oil glands. Unfortunately, the interior contains less flesh or juice than most varieties.
This cultivar of Femminello is prized for its remarkably high fruit yield. Despite their size, they produce plenty of higher quality essential oil and juice.
Sometimes called the “Burna” lemon due to variations in language, this Spanish variety is harvested before reaching maturity, ensuring it doesn’t reach full size.
They’re known for having plenty of tasty, acidic juice, tender flesh, and a seed content that changes depending on the conditions during that growing season.
This Sicilian species is almost identical to the eureka lemon. It’s a popular crop in Florida and has become increasingly popular among Argentinian growers. It produces plenty of lemon oil and vitamin C, making it a good alternative to Lisbon and eureka.
One of the many lemon-citrus hybrids out there, this variety crosses a lemon with a species of sour orange. The flesh is a reddish yellow flesh with few seeds and a sweet, mildly acidic flavor. The rind is bumpy with a bright reddish color and typical limon shape.
25. Yen Ben
While resembling the Lisbon lemon on the outside, this Australian species has a thinner, smooth rind and more flesh. There’s plenty of juice and very little seed content.