I had almost forgotten them.
When I worked at Copia, Napa’s now-defunct center for food, wine, and the arts, we had them in the garden and used them constantly.
But that was over four years ago and I’ve hardly seen a Meyer lemon since. Not that they aren’t around. Spoiled by how accessible they used to be, I simply haven’t looked.
Meyer lemons, named for Frank Meyer, who discovered them in Peking and brought them to the US in the early 20th century, are a beautiful cross between a standard, or Eureka, lemon and a mandarin—and they truly display the best qualities of both. A Meyer’s lemon flavor has less acidity and more sweetness than a standard lemon’s, as well as a lovely floral aroma from the mandarin. All the pastry chefs I know adore Meyers for that combination—lemon flavor without the lemon “ouch,” plus wonderful aromatics.
Imagine what lower acidity and a flowery fragrance would add to your favorite lemony dishes. Imagine Meyer lemon meringue pie. Meyer lemon marmalade. Even Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
You can get it, right?
Thin skins make Meyers less than ideal for distribution—which is why they’re mostly a backyard crop. That said, you can find Meyers at specialty and farmers’ markets from October/November through April/May.
In other words, don’t delay.
That said, a lot of people have trees that produce all year long, especially in Southern California. Lucky ducks.
Anyway, all that Meyer magnificence was a distant memory until just the other day, when my mom brought some over from a friend’s tree.
That night, my husband made his special pan-seared petrale and I prepared some Meyer lemon wedges to serve along side. As soon as the first cut released that lemon-mandarin scent, we both sort of swooned.
And I remembered.
Here are a few recipes for enjoying Meyers, all of which I created for Bon Appetit back in 2005:
And here’s a killer recipe for Meyer Lemon Curd from Gourmet.
Added February 28:
How could I forget my favorite Meyer lemon recipe of all?!? Rosemary Meyer Lemon Drops, right here on this site.