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TIP OF THE DAY: Meyer Lemons

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-lemon-beauty-goodeggs-230

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)
  • Cocktails
  • Espresso (use the peel)
  • Hot or iced tea
  • Lemonade (recipe)
  • Meyer limoncello (recipe)
  • Regular or sparkling water
  • Simple syrup (recipe)
  •  

    meyer-lemon-trees-slt-230
    Meyer lemons were originally houseplants in China. You can still buy them as houseplants. These are from Sur La Table.
     

    MEYER LEMON IN SAVORY DISHES

  • Aïoli (recipe)
  • Any recipe that calls for lemon
  • Avgolemono soup or sauce (recipe)
  • Beurre citron (lemon beurre blanc), a delicious sauce for salmon or Arctic char (recipe below)
  • Freshly squeezed atop the dish
  • Hollandaise sauce (recipe)
  • Vinaigrette: replace half or all the vinegar and add some of the zest
  • Wedge garnish
  •  
    MEYER LEMON IN DESSERTS

  • Baked or frozen soufflé
  • Ice cream, sorbet, granita
  • Lemon chiffon cake
  • Lemon bundt, pound cake or cupcakes
  • Lemon custard (also delicious as layer cake filling)
  • Lemon meringue pie
  •  
    USES FOR GRATED MEYER LEMON ZEST

  • General garnish
  • Gremolata (minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest used as a condiment with meats—recipe)
  • Lemon shortbread (recipe)
  • Meringue cookies (recipe)
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    MORE USES FOR MEYER LEMON

  • Candied lemon peel
  • Fruit curd
  • Lemon centerpiece—enjoy the aroma for a few days before you use them
  • Preserved lemons
  •  
    RECIPE: LEMON BEURRE BLANC

    This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown, who offers this trick: You can make the sauce in advance and store it in a thermos, where it will stay hot until until ready to serve.

    Ingredients

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces white wine
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the shallots, white wine and lemon juice in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat. Reduce to 2 tablespoons.

    2. ADD the cream; when the liquid bubbles, reduce the heat to low. Add half the butter, one cube at a time, whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and then add the remaining cubes, continuing to whisk until the mixture is fully emulsified and has reached a rich sauce consistency.

    3. SEASON with salt and white pepper to taste.
      




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