Meyer Lemons /

Magnificent Meyer lemons

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 years ago and Meyer lemons have sort of been off my radar 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 typically a backyard crop. That said, you can find Meyers at specialty and farmers’ markets, and increasingly at supermarkets, 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 Mayonnaise and wedges to serve along side. As soon as the first cut released that lemon-mandarin scent, we both sort of swooned.

And I remembered.

A few recipes for enjoying Meyers:
Meyer Lemon Mayonnaise
Lemon Bars with Cardamom (great with Meyers!)
Strawberry, Meyer Lemon, and Buttermilk Ice Cream
Rosemary Meyer Lemon Drop

A couple more I created for Bon Appetit back in 2005:
Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade
Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Compote

And a killer recipe for Meyer Lemon Curd from Gourmet

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