The Meyer Lemon: A Treasured Fruit
First discovered by Frank Meyer in Peking, China, the Meyer lemon made its way onto U.S. soil in 1908, primarily in California, Texas, and Florida. This “winter” citrus is thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. And that’s what really sets it apart.
The plump, miraculous hybrid grows on a small tree, developing smooth skin and a sweeter flavor profile than the traditional lemon. Luxuriantly floral, its seductive scent features intoxicating notes of orange blossom and bergamot. Available from December through May, the Meyer lemon is a treasured find. And due to its thin skin, commercial distribution is not in its favor. Perhaps that’s what makes this plant a produce gem.
In the ‘80s, founding Pastry Chef Lindsey Shere of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse and Martha Stewart began to glorify the golden-yellow crop, working them into desserts and savory dishes where brightness was needed, but integrity maintained. “Meyers have all the hallmarks of a lemon and can be subbed in any recipe for lemons,” says East End Food Co-op Produce Manager Evan Diamond. “With the addition of spice aromatics, sweeter flavor, and softer, squishier texture, many would argue they are far superior.”
Diamond suggests preserving them, as they make a great addition to a number of dishes. “The juice is fantastic with seltzer and in mixed drinks, and it can add an extra something to a dish that you regularly garnish with normal lemons. Try it diced on a salad as a top garnish, too.”
This spring, our bucket list includes incorporating grated Meyer lemon peel into a risotto with mascarpone and Parmesan. What will you make when life gives you Meyer lemons?
East End Food Co-op, 7516 Meade St., Pointe Breeze. 412.242.3598. eastendfood.coop.