Season for Meyer Lemons November - April
Meyer Lemons Described
Meyer Lemons get their name from the agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s and brought this citrus hybrid back from China. After short-lived success, much to their (and our!) misfortune, the Meyer Lemon tree was banned in the 1940s to protect against a spreading virus. A turn of luck, however, and a new virus-free version was created in the early '70s. Meyer lemons have a thin skin and are less tart than the ubiquitous Lisbon and Eureka. Their flesh is a light orange-yellow color with juice sweeter than that of most lemons - a perfect culinary blend of a lemon and a mandarin.
How to Buy and Store Meyer Lemons
Until recently, most Meyers have been grown in backyards among the lucky few. Thankfully, a rising demand on the culinary spectrum means Meyer Lemons are becoming increasingly available at markets. Because they are super perishable, farmers markets are your best bet. Look for Meyers with a vivid orange-yellow rind which indicates the fruit was allowed to ripen fully before being harvested and will be succulent, juicy, aromatic and delicious. Also, look for bright, shiny lemons, as they quickly begin to shrivel (a few days after picking) and the rinds become hard and dry. That said, cut it open, for they are generally fine inside.
How to Cook Meyer Lemons
Meyer Lemons are prized for their lemonic nature without the harsh acidity. So, keep that in mind as you experiment with this hybrid. Sectioned and added to fruit salads, meyers add a uniquely gourmet twist. They make beautiful lemonade that requires less sugar, and are stars in cocktails like a lemon drop. Or how about a Meyer mojito? Use in traditional lemon desserts, such as a soufflé, lemon tart or cheese cake. Or give our Preserved Lemon Recipe a try, also known as pickled lemons and a great complement to Indian dishes or grilled fish. Squeeze Meyers over all sorts of savory dishes, but keep in mind their sweetness.
Health Benefits of Meyer Lemons
As a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin, Meyers maintain many of the health-giving qualities of their citrus parents, blending the best of both worlds. Of course, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, which keeps our immunity in check. But they are also full of antioxidants that are believed to have a ton of health benefits which include protection against heart disease, cancer and the aging process in general. Add to it, Meyer lemons (and lemons in general) keep you cool, calm and collected while purifying your stomach.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Meyer Lemons
Owing to the highly perishable nature of Meyers, they don't fare well in freight. So, commercially... not so much. You are likely to find this gem at its best when locally sourced. And, you should have no problem finding organic Meyer Lemons at your local farmers market, that is, when they are in season. Make sure you opt for organic, especially if you intend to use the rind which sparkles in all manner of awesome recipes - like this simple method for candied lemon peels.