If you don’t have a Meyer Lemon tree in your backyard, perhaps a neighbor or friend has gifted you with a bag of these sunny jewels from their tree, or maybe you have picked up some local Meyer Lemons at Newcastle Produce on your regular shopping trip.
Meyer Lemons are sunny, bright, and thin skinned with delightful aromas of herbs and honey. Thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or a sweet orange, they were brought to this country from China in 1908 by Frank Nicholas Meyer, an agricultural explorer for the United States Department of Agriculture.
They became popular in the 1990s when Alice Waters of Chez Panisse discovered them during the California Cuisine revolution. Then Martha Stewart started using them in her recipes and soon the secret was out.
Meyer Lemons are sweeter and less acidic than true lemons. Try the grated rind and juice in any recipe calling for lemon.
Our own chef Chelsea Bruce has her own story about Meyer Lemons: “When I was 10, my mom and dad decided that we would get a Meyer Lemon tree every year instead of a Christmas tree. I was not a fan! As my brothers and I decorated a new tree each year with lights and silver, tinsel, I always thought, ‘What a sad Christmas tree!’”
“Looking back now, I am thankful for those amazing trees. Our Meyer Lemon Christmas trees are the trees that keep on giving for our family. This year they bear an amazing amount of their own yellow, delicious Christmas bulbs. The trees fruit and bloom at the same time, their delicate pink blossoms opening up into fragrant white flowers. I have never known a time when I have not been able to go out to the orchard and grab a lemon.”
Chef Chelsea remembers, “At a young age, I learned to turn our lemons into lemonade, but had a problem selling my product. Looking back now, I giggle to myself. We were the only house on a long dirt driveway! I thought people would just automatically come to get my fresh squeezed lemonade!” Her recipe below has since been perfected into a more grown-up style. Unique in its flavor with lavender syrup and sparkling water, it is a proven crowd pleaser.