Conventional lemons are often picked while still green. They are then washed in detergent, waxed and moved into cold (52 degrees) storage to finish ripening. For this process, they are sorted by color and stored in separate bins. As they ‘ripen’ they are taken out of storage, washed again and re-waxed for packing. The result is a very tart lemon without much flavor and with a wax coating. As with a lot of fruit we get today, they look great at the market but have little flavor and no natural sweetness. Using the skin will add wax to your diet and color the flavor of zest or candy made from the peel. While some ‘organic’ growers will use beeswax that is thinned with mineral oil, the result is the same; a greasy lemon.
In contrast, we wait until our lemons are fully ripe on the tree and pick them to order. Instead of dunking them in a vat of detergent, we wipe them gently with a clean rag while inspecting each one. The natural oil of the skin will give them a shine (though no as much as a waxed lemon) and they look great. Instead of moving them to cold storage, they are shipped the same day or the next morning and are kept cool by the evening air (about 60 degrees) in our packing room.