During the cold winter months with most fruits out of season, citrus become a go-to fruit. Calamondins, clementines, grapefruits, kumquats, lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, pomelos, satsumas, sweet limettas, tangelo, tangerine, ugli fruit and even more exotic varieties: All are waiting for you to enjoy.
Cut them into salads, mix them into sauces, turn them into desserts and enjoy [most of them] as hand fruit.
While your local stores and farmers markets may not carry calamondins or sweet limettas, they should be able to scare up some Meyer lemons. Deep canary yellow, these citrus treats are sweeter and less acidic than other lemons.
A cross between a true lemon and either a sweet orange or a mandarin, Citrus × meyeri was first brought to the U.S. from China in 1908 by Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who, as an “agricultural explorer,” discovered it there.
Of course, it was no discovery to the Chinese, who had long been growing the lemon in pots as an ornamental tree. Ornamental trees were planted in California yards, and the Meyer became popular in the U.S. when “rediscovered” by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in the 1990s. Other chefs and personalities like Martha Stewart began featuring them in recipes; groves were planted and the fruits showed up in markets.
Meyer lemons are much sweeter and more flavorful than the Bearss and Lisbon varieties commonly found in American grocery stores. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.
Much smaller than the supermarket Lisbon lemon, with sweeter juice, less acid, brighter flavor, a thinner peel and more floral scent and flavor than other lemon varieties (more juice than Lisbon lemons, too!), Meyers are a hit among those who have brought them home. So today’s tip is: Bag a batch and decide how to use them.
The rind and juice can be substituted wherever regular lemons are called for, in sweet and savory foods and beverages.
Check out the different types of lemons in our Lemon Glossary.
30+ WAYS TO USE MEYER LEMON
If you find yourself addicted to Meyer lemons, here’s another tip: Squeeze the juice, freeze it in an ice cube tray and then store the cubes in double plastic freezer bags.
Defrost a cube whenever you need a hit of Meyer lemon.
MEYER LEMON IN BEVERAGES
Beer (squeeze a wedge into a lager, wheat beer or other lighter style)
Espresso (use the peel)
Hot or iced tea
Meyer limoncello (recipe)
Regular or sparkling water
Simple syrup (recipe)