I was shopping at Whole Foods Market the other day and grabbed a small bag of lemons to put into my homemade chicken soup (NOT the lemons that made me fall flat on my face in the parking lot). When took them out to start prepping for the soup, I noticed the bag said “Meyer Lemons”.
I didn’t really think much of it, but I did notice that the color was a warmer shade of yellow than a normal lemon, and they were softer (I could squeeze them). I sliced into one to juice it, and noticed the skin and pith were thinner than a regular lemon, and much more juice came out. I took a taste and noticed that it was still a bit sour like a regular lemon, but had a very sweet and refreshing finish. I continued with my soup recipe and it came out delicious.
That night, I was watching Anne Burrell (love her...kinda hope she wins The Next Iron Chef!) on Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. She was making pancakes with ricotta cheese and…Meyer lemons! I had initially thought "Meyer" was just a brand name, like “Dole”. I didn’t realize they were an actual type of lemon. Anne talked about how much sweeter and more versatile Meyers are than regular lemons.
The next day, I received my copy of Martha Stewart's Whole Living magazine in the mail, and opened it up right to an article about…you guessed it…Meyer lemons*. There were several delicious looking recipes in the article. I also learned that these lemons were named after Frank Meyer, who was an agricultural explorer at the turn of the 20th century.
I decided that I was now fated to learn more about these lemons, so I googled them and found countless articles and recipes and food blogs dedicated to Meyer lemons. I learned that Meyer lemons are native to China, where, at that time they were used as household decorations.
According to an article I saw on NPR, Frank Meyer was introduced to these lemons “…on several trips to Asia with the mission of collecting new plant species. Among more than 2,500 plants that he introduced to the U.S., the Meyer lemon was named in his honor.”
Apparently I have been living under a rock since I just now found out about Meyer lemons, but I am very excited to incorporate them into my existing recipes that use lemons, as well as try some of the new recipes I’ve come across. I've also come across Meyer lemon infused teas, olive oils and vinaigrettes, marmalades, and various dessert mixes that all look very appetizing.
In particular, I’d like to make lemonade with Meyers. Since they are naturally sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, they would require less added sugar (or natural alternative to sugar like xylitol, stevia, or even pure maple syrup) than regular lemonade would. Mmmm, even better…I bet a Meyer limoncello would be divine…by the way, Erika has a Meyer lemon tree (lucky!) and uses them in many of her recipes on her blog In Erika's Kitchen...check them out!
Just thinking about all of these wonderful possibilities is making my mouth water. It turns out my innocent lemon purchase has turned into a new craving.
Article first published as Meyer Lemons:They are Everywhere! on Blogcritics.
*Winslow K, Bocar S. What do I do with...Meyer lemons? Whole Living. 2011; 53:59-61.
**Image 1 from Birch-Hill Organics Meyer Lemons and Kiwi Fruit, image 2 from EatDrinkJoy.com.