Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meyer Lemons

I had my first fresh Meyer Lemon this evening at my parents house. (I'm so grateful they are foodies too!)

I was asked (after our amazing dinner, a whole beef tenderloin smoked for 3 hours on the wood smoker and served with roasted parsnips) if I wanted to take home lemons....

Odd question I thought until I was told they were Meyer lemons. I've heard of Meyer lemons, had Meyer lemon curd, listened to Martha Stewart rave about them..... But had never had one until tonight.

It's a whole new sweet, tangy, lemony experience!!!!! Yum people. It tasted like a lemon starburst!

When I got home I added one slice to a glass of water and it was an instant, all natural lemonade.

So here is the info I got on Wikipedia about them:

"The Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.
The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China potted as an ornamental. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse during the California Cuisine revolution. Popularity further climbed when Martha Stewart began featuring them in her recipes.

Meyer lemon trees are around 6 to 10 feet (2–3 meters) tall at maturity, though they can be pruned smaller. Their leaves are dark green and shiny. The flowers are white with a purple base and fragrant.
The fruit is yellow and rounder than a true lemon. The skin is fragrant and thin, coloured a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemon fruits have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common lemon Lisbon or Eureka grocery store varieties. The pulp is a dark yellow and contains up to 10 seeds per fruit.

Meyer lemons are reasonably hardy, but grow well in a warm climate. They are also fairly vigorous. A tree grown from seed usually begins fruiting in four years. While trees produce fruit throughout the year, the majority of the crop is ready in winter. Trees require adequate water, but less in the winter. For maximum yield, they should be fertilized during growing periods.
Meyer lemons are popular as ornamental plants due to their compact size, hardiness and productivity. They are highly decorative and suitable for container growing.

By the mid 1940s the Meyer lemon had become widely grown in California. However, at that time it was discovered that a majority of the Meyer lemon trees being cloned were symptomless carriers of the Citrus tristeza virus, a virus which had killed millions of citrus trees all over the world and rendered other millions useless for production. After this finding, most of the Meyer lemon trees in the United States were destroyed to save other citrus trees.
A virus-free selection was found in the 1950s by Don Dillon of the California company Four Winds Growers, and was later certified and released in 1975 by the University of California as the Improved Meyer lemon."


I am of course going to buy a bag of them tomorrow and see what else I can make, maybe a Champagne Meyer lemon vinegarette for tomorrows dinner salad.

If you are interested in purchasing them, check your local Sendiks. (124th and North Ave has them for sure)

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