When life hands you lemons… It’s a pretty good day, actually.
We are talking about Meyer lemons. The gorgeous and sweet-tart citrus can’t help but bring a smile to your face. Little globes of sunshine, Meyer lemons are actually a cross between a standard lemon (Eureka or Lisbon) and a mandarin orange. The Meyer lemon is sweeter than your regular grocery store variety, with a thin, edible exterior and lots of juice inside. As you lift them to your nose or slice into one, you’ll notice a bright, floral scent. (Smiling yet?!)
The Meyer lemon was introduced to the United States by agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer in the early 1900s. The US Department of Agriculture sent Meyer to Asia to research new plant species, and of all the varieties he brought back, this particular species came to be his namesake. Cultivation of the Meyer lemon began in California, Texas and Florida. They were popular as backyard trees for many years, but didn't reach commercial popularity until the 2000s. (Thank you, Martha Stewart.)
The sweet quality of the Meyer lemon makes it a versatile and treasured ingredient. You can use them wherever you would use a standard lemon. They accompany fish and chicken dishes beautifully, serve as the basis for refreshing desserts, and garnish, well, almost anything. Because of their milder quality, they make excellent lemonade and cocktails, not to mention salad dressing. Toss a little sunshine into your next winter salad with this recipe for Zesty Meyer Lemon Dressing.
If you’re opening your box this week to Meyer lemons, take a moment to stop and smell the citrus. And see if you can keep yourself from smiling.