I baked a lot during my years in Germany and for much of the time followed German cookbooks as I could not readily find American ingredients. Cookbook translation is always a challenge when starting out; different techniques are taken for granted in each style and phrases, not words, need to be translated.
So for years I understood the phrase "Schale einer ungespritzten Zitrone" to mean zest from a lemon that hadn't had the juice squeezed out of it, yet. Makes perfect sense to me, knowing that the verb, "spritzen" means to spray. Unfortunately, the phrase is not that simple. "Ungespritzte" or "unbehandelte Zitrone" means a lemon which has not been treated after harvest.
Most of us understand that paraffin is used on the rind to prevent water loss, but producers don't talk much about other chemicals, such as biphenyl (E230) (used as a fungicide in the US, not the EU) or Tiabendazole (E233) (fungicide and worm medicine) which diffuse in the packing materials or are added to the wax. The USDA has daily maximum doses for these chemicals and most studies show low toxicity, but I bet many people, including myself, question whether we should be taking in any extra chemicals.
While the USDA and producers seem to obfuscate information on handling and packaging, making it difficult for lay people to find out exactly what they are ingesting, organic lemons in the US are not prepared with these chemicals. While the amount of ingested chemicals are small, you might want to consider the more expensive solution if you like to bake with fresh lemons. You can also remove most of the wax by washing the fruit with Fit Fruit & Vegetable. I haven't tried it yet, but the reviews are good. In Germany, try to buy lemons from the Bioladen, Naturkostladen, Reformhaus or with a Demeter or Bioland seal or which claim to be "unbehandelt" or "ungespritzed."
Photo © J.McGavin
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