You see them this month in Bon Appetit magazine, and in food blogs but what the heck are Meyer lemons? Available between November and March, this favorite of chefs is a cross between a lemon and possibly a mandarin orange or tangerine. The tasty citrus fruit came to North America from agriculturer explorer and traveler Frank Nicholas Meyer, who brought a sample home from a trip to China.
Serious Eats describes the fruit as having the “best attributes of lemons and oranges in a tart citrus fruit that doesn't make your face pucker.” With its sweeter flesh and absence of the acidic bite of regular lemons along with thin, edible skin, these fruit are sought after for chefs to include in their kitchens. Many lucky Californians just grow them in their backyard since they are difficult to transport, but demand is making them increasingly available. I found some a few weeks ago at my local grocery store away from a major urban center.
What can you make with Meyer lemons? So far, my favorite thing has been to create lemon curd with them. Don't be scared off if you aren't a chef—all you need to do to create wonderful lemon curd is use good ingredients and know how to use a whisk! Then package up the mixture to fill tart shells, spoon on scones, or as a filling for cake.
Another wonderful thing about Meyer lemons is that you don't have to waste a thing. While making curd, I also peeled off the skin, sliced it thin, and then candied them. If you store them in a jar they will last for months, ready to be diced up into treats or just eaten as is. We had a hard time not picking a few off the tray every time we walked by!
Since Meyer lemons are less acidic, you can’t just go ahead and substitute them in recipes for standard lemons. Whether you choose to zest them into marinades or salad dressings, use in marinades, preserve them for later use in Middle Eastern dishes, candy the peels, you’ll have no trouble finding a way to taste that little bit of sunshine. I found a recipe this month in Bon Appetit that uses them in a salsa to top chicken skewers.
Looking for more ideas? Check out Bon Appetit’s 10 Ways to Cook with Meyer Lemons.
Whether you zest it, squeeze it or slice it, grab a Meyer lemon to try. Once you do, it will be hard to go back to regular supermarket lemons again.