(Originally published February 4, 2014 in East Bay/South Coast Life.)
It isn’t my intention to brag but right this minute there are no less than five ripe lemons on my Meyer lemon tree, four of them hanging from a single bowed branch tip. It’s a bumper crop this year — we have already used two — and I wish I could share the wealth. Instead I’ll just tell you that if I can grow this fruit indoors, so can you. And I’ll follow that statement with a couple of reasons why I think you should.
Number one, you don’t have to love lemons to think that this one is delicious. Whatever it is in lemons that makes my face implode in an agony of tartness is almost missing from this species. Meyers, thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange, are much sweeter and less acidic than an everyday lemon. And although they can be used for normal things like lemonade, squares, and garnish, a quick internet search will result in a stack of gourmet recipes from savory root vegetable roasts to custardy desserts.
Some sources credit Martha Stewart for popularizing cooking with Meyer lemons but I suspect Alice Waters of Chez Panisse had something to do with it too. Or maybe I only think that because my chef has made the Meyer lemon relish from her cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, on several scrumptious occasions. Part of what makes Meyer lemons extra special and particularly necessary for a recipe like Waters’s relish is that their yolk-orange rind is edible, nearly pithless, and delicious. But the rind is also why they are expensive and hard to come by: it’s too thin to protect the fruit during shipping.
So number two, if you want a Meyer lemon for a recipe (and are reluctant to pay dearly for the pleasure) you’ll have to grow it yourself. Many of our local nurseries sell good-sized plants, or you could start small with a cutting from Logee’s Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut (They do mail-order but I recommend taking the hour-long trip.) They’ll start flowering and fruiting young. Continue reading “Down to earth – life could give you Meyer lemons”