The Meyer lemon is famous for its juicy, lovely sweet orange-lemon flavourful pulp and incomparable perfume. Rounder than conventional lemon, it has a smooth, thin yellow rind that deepens to orange-yellow as it ripens and it is almost seedless.
The fruits expert David Karp tells us that the Meyer lemon (C.x meyeri) was introduced to the United States by another plant explorer, Frank Meyer who discovered the tree growing in pots near Peking in 1908. At that time, lemons were indigenous to India and exotic and scarce in China. Recently a researcher at the University of California at Riverside have determined that the Meyer lemon is a hybrid and that its female parent is almost certainly a sweet orange, and the male a lemon or citron.
Every part of the lemon can be use in cuisine. The fragrant skin contains valuable oils that add flavours to drinks, and every kind of dessert. A meyer lemon is different from a regular lemon. If you are using a Meyer lemon you will use it first for it’s perfume, sweetness and subtlety of it. Yet, when you taste it, you may want to add a touch of regular lemon to give it a little more depth.
The Meyer lemon’s complex, almost floral flavour and aroma combine happily with grapefruit, honey, lemon, lime, orange, vanilla, thyme, bay leaf and mint.
Meyer lemons are usually grown in California but are becoming more widely available. They are perishable and are not in the market for long during the winter months. The beauty of preserving Meyer lemons is that it gives you a way to enjoy them year-round.
Preserved lemons are common in Moroccan dishes but their complex, bright flavour and aroma enliven all kinds of soups, stews, salads and drinks.
To make preserved lemons you will need:
10 -12 Meyer Lemons
2/3 cup unrefined grey sea salt fine or coarse
Spices that you may want to experiment with:
cinnamon stick, cloves, saffron, fennel seeds and coriander seeds.
1.Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush and dry them off.
2.Quarter the lemons starting at the top to within 1/2-inch of the bottom, making a big X shape into the lemon but have the bottom still attached.
3.Sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh of each lemon and then reshape the fruit.
4.Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of a sterilized one-pint mason jar. Place the salt-filled lemons in the jar and push them down, adding more salt. Press down the lemons to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. (If the juice released from the squashed lemon does not cover them, add freshly squeezed lemon juice). If you are using spices, add them as you layer the lemons.
5.Leave some air space at the top of the jar before sealing. Cover and let stand over night. The next day, press the lemon down again to release more juice. The lemons should be completely submerged with juice. If they are not, add some freshly squeezed lemon juice until they are covered.
6. Let the lemons ripen for 30 days at room temperature, shaking the jar every other day to distribute the salt and juice. After 4 or 5 weeks they are ready and can be store in the refrigerator. After 6 months they taste even better.
4. To use, you may rinse the lemons as needed under running water to remove the excess salt. Cut the lemon in half and scrape the pulp. The pulp can be used in drinks. Chopped the remaining peel and use as a condiment for grilled meat, fish and vegetables, lamb tagine and chicken. Once you start using them, they soon become a necessity in a myriad of dishes !
The preserved lemons keep, refrigerated , for up to 1 year.
Do you have a favourite recipe for Meyer Lemon?
At Le Meadow’s Pantry we make an awesome marmalade with Meyer lemon and lemon verbena and we call it Sunshine in a Jar.. It will be available soon at the farmer’s market!