Before winter is over, we need to talk about Meyer lemons. In colder months we see them pop up all over and, though the Meyer lemon is becoming a kitchen staple, they still hold an exotic quality that puts them on a culinary pedestal. Let’s bring them down to earth and get them on your kitchen table, shall we?
Allow me to make the introductions – friends, meet Meyer lemons; Meyer lemons, meet my friends. Let’s get to know each other better:
What it is: A Meyer lemon is the happy product of crossing a lemon with a mandarin orange, with origins in China. It’s a deep, bright yellow, and quite round compared to a regular lemon.
Why you should give a damn: The main appeal of a Meyer lemon is its flavor, not acidity; the lemon’s sour pucker is sweetly tempered by the its better half, the mandarin orange. The skin is also extremely thin with virtually no pith, which means you can eat the whole thing — and their floral aroma adds a subtle complexity to any dish.
Where you can find it: These citrus darlings were first brought to the American shores by “agricultural explorer” Frank N. Meyer; but that thin skin I mentioned earlier? That, combined with an ultra-juicy interior made them far too delicate to transport across the states, so for ages, they remained primarily in California, Texas, and Florida. Luckily, this story has a happy ending: a recent rise in popularity means grocers are taking the pains necessary to bring Meyer lemons to markets beyond those borders. Look for them in winter months, spanning November through March, and head to supermarkets that are slightly more upscale (think Whole Foods).
How it’ll benefit you: Aside from making everything you add them to seriously pretty (hello, Pinterest!)? It’s extremely versatile as a stellar ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. You can add that hit of lemon flavor without making the dish too tart, and its natural sweetness usually means you can reduce the amount of sugar added to dessert recipes.
How it really shines: Baked goods are a particular favorite of Meyer lemon lovers, and make even humble desserts seem like a special treat. Southern icebox pie-bites and black pepper cookies are two unique takes, and I love using them in berry jams instead of regular lemons. If you’re feeling up to it, I highly suggest making some preserved Meyer lemons and using them in couscous or other Mediterranean-influenced dishes; or try making citrus salt, for sprinkling over fish or vegetables any time you like. And if you’ve got a Meyer lemon that needs to get used right this minute, you can’t go wrong with a simple spaghetti.
More ideas to get Meyer lemons on your table:
Candied Meyer Lemons – Like putting a party hat on any dessert
Meyer Lemon and Orange Bitters – Try making this and giving it as a seriously thoughtful homemade gift for a foodie friend
Blackberry Meyer Lemon Gin & Tonics – You could use regular lemons, but blackberries and Meyer lemons go so well together, we think it’s worth the substitution
Spicy Baked Green Bean Fries With Meyer Lemon Aioli – You could probably ditch the fries and just pick up a spoon, though, you know?
Roasted Carrots With Cumin & Meyer Lemon – A nice, easy side dish with a big amount of flavor
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