Jan 25, 2008

Meyer lemons are back!

I get ingredient crushes. Some come and go, some lead me to new and interesting discoveries. But my love for Meyer lemons will never waver. It's Meyer lemon season. I was so excited about them last year, every time I went to the store and saw them, I bought a few. Then I came home and stashed their zest and juice in little containers in the freezer. That way I could raid my stash throughout the year to make ice cream, salad dressings, pound cake, cookies... I really wanted to make lemonade, but just couldn't bring myself to part with so much of the stash all in one shot. It's been my frozen golden treasure. I feel better just knowing it's in there.

Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between regular lemons and oranges or mandarins. The photo shows a Meyer lemon in front of a regular lemon. As you can see, the Meyer has a smoother skin and when ripe, a more orange color. They are less acidic with a softer, more complex flavor. They are usually a bit smaller than regular large lemons and rounder.

A U.S. Dept. of Agriculture employee, Frank Meyer, discovered them growing in China and introduced them to this country. (Thanks, Frank!) Today, they're grown mostly in California but also in Texas and Florida. If anyone knows of any local sources, I'd love to hear. I always prefer to buy local and especially with citrus, organic. Since I use the zest as often as the peel, I don't want to be eating chemicals. Seems like I've heard them mentioned at Boggy Creek Farms, but I don't know if they sell them. I've been seeing them in Austin at Central Market. With a new puppy at home, I haven't been able to catch the farmer's market recently, but you may find some there as well. If so, let me know.

By the way, the header photo at the top of the page is a photo from our Meyer lemon plant. Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck with it producing fruit. The lemon in the photo came off before ripening. But I'm still hopeful.

I'll be posting some favorite recipes using Meyer lemons soon. In the meantime, here are some resources.

• Meyer lemon primer from A Splendid Table

100 things to do with a Meyer lemon from the LA Times. (You'll need to register with their site to access this story, but it's a good one.)

• My favorite pound cake recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. Substitute Meyer lemons. (Note: she also has a lighter version of this recipe using yogurt, but I've had trouble with it collapsing. Still working on this one. Will report back.)

Postscript: Found some organic Meyer lemons on sale at Whole Foods (downtown) today.


White On Rice Couple said...

Meyer lemons rock! One of our first fruiting trees was a meyer lemon and it's always a huge fruit producer. Great post on meyers!

Anonymous said...

I have 2 times ordered the best Meyer lemons from the www.lemonladies.com. They are organic and fantastic. Karen Morss is wonderful to work with. Highly recommended.