About 6 years ago we bought two little citrus trees in one gallon pots. One was supposed to be a Mexican lime and the other a Meyer lemon. We planted them close together due to space limitations and my son wanted to have more or less "one tree trunk" producing two kinds of citrus.
They grew, but nothing happened at all until year before last when one of them flowered. We had no idea which one. Although it had quite a bit of blooms, it produced only one fruit by Christmas of '08, but it was enough to determine it was the Meyer lemon. The Mexican lime has never bloomed at all.
Last year, the little tree bloomed all over and we have been able to harvest quite a few lemons â€“ 13 big lemons so far and we still have another 14 left on the tree.
The 13 lemons yielded almost 6 and half cups of juice!
The Meyer lemon tree (Citrus x meyeri 'Meyer') aka Valley Lemon in Texas, was named for Frank Meyer who introduced the tree to the United States while working for the USDA in China in 1908. After a virus infected the trees in the '40s, the trees were banned as a precaution since the virus could possibly attack other citrus varieties.
Lucky for us, a new and hardier version of the Meyer was discovered and the tree re-introduced in 1970 and went on to become a favorite in the home garden or patio, since they grow so well in large pots.
The shape of the Meyer lemon is rounder than other lemons, almost as big as an orange and the flesh is orange-yellow in color.
The fruit can be used as you would that of any other lemon, but it will have a distinctive and milder taste. At the end I list some ideas for using the fruit. I found them by doing a search on the Internet and through discussions with some of my Internet foodie friends.
As I mentioned above, our little harvest yielded a lot of juice. Some I froze in ice cube trays to then save in freezer plastic bags to use in iced tea or for cooking. Some I froze in small sized plastic bags and ended up making lemonade with the rest.
Meyer Lemon Lemonade
2-1/2 cups Meyer lemon juice
2-1/2 cups simple syrup
12 cups cold water
To make the simple syrup you need to bring to a boil equal portions of sugar and water until sugar dissolves completely. Do not boil for long or the syrup will get too thick.
Mix all ingredients well and pour into a pitcher or a cold drink dispenser jug and refrigerate.
I love to serve it with a sprig of spearmint.
Limoncello is a lemon liqueur that originated in the Amalfi coast of Italy and has become quite popular in the States. The lemons used there are traditionally Sorrento lemons, which are huge yellow lemons with a lot of juice, but almost any lemon zest can be used.
Zet or peel from 2 pounds of lemon â€“ yellow part only
4 cups of 100 proof vodka
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
When peeling or zesting the lemons, be careful to peel the yellow only. If by chance you get some of the white pith, scrape it with the edge of a spoon. The white pith will give your liqueur a bitter taste.
Steep the peel in four cups of 100 proof vodka in a large bowl covered with a tea towel or cheesecloth for one week at room temperature. Make simple syrup by stirring three cups of sugar and three cups of water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; cool. Add to the vodka mixture and stir. Strain the liquid into bottles; seal and chill the limoncello for one month. Pour into small glasses and enjoy!
YIELD: Not supplied
SOURCE: Bon Appetit, May 2002
The recipe for the spritzers is one my friend Diane shared in her family blog. The photograph is also courtesy of Diane.
Place ice cubes in a pitcher and add Seltzer and Limoncello (1 1/2 cups Seltzer to 1 1/2 cups Limoncello for 2 drinks).
Stir and serve in wine goblets.
Garnish with lemon slice if desired.
Diane used Meyer lemon slices from her garden for the garnish.
NOTE: The above amounts are per the recipe by Michael Chiarello, but Diane and her daughter found they liked more Seltzer mixed into the drink than called for. She also thinks that a touch of mint would be a nice addition.
YIELD: 2 drinks
SOURCE: Diane Willis
If you like home style Italian food, try Diane's Un Saludo a las Cucinas de Italia blog http://asalutetothekitchensofitaly.blogspot.com
You can also find Diane's recipe for Limoncello Cheesecake in the following blog link: http://asalutetothekitchensofitaly.blogspot.com/2010/01/limoncello-cheesecake.html
If you have more lemon peel than you need for making limoncello:
Other tips for using Meyer Lemons â€“
*From my friends Diane in California and Deb in Georgia â€“Use a vegetable peeler and save the peel before juicing the lemons. Freeze the peels in small snack size bags. When lemon zest is needed, just take the needed amount out, defrost, mince and you will have fresh lemon zest to use in baking and all types of recipes.
The Meyer Lemon peels can be candied as well. They are really tasty and make pretty decorations for cup cakes, cakes, tarts, and other pastries.
The following are by Amy Scattergood Los Angeles Times Staff Writer in the January 16th, 2008 issue.
* Infuse your favorite olive oil with Meyer lemon peel: Warm a cup of olive oil and the peel from 2 lemons over very low heat for 15 minutes, then allow cooling for half an hour. Strain and pour into an antique bottle with a tight stopper.
* Make Meyer lemon vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, a splash of champagne vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest.
* Add Meyer lemon peels into a jar of honey and allow to sit for a few weeks; the peel will perfume the honey while it slowly candies in the jar.
* Perfume your sugar bowl by stirring strips of Meyer lemon peel down into the sugar.
* Make hollandaise sauce with Meyer lemon.
* Whisk the zest of a few Meyer lemons into your favorite meringue recipe.
* Throw the peel of a Meyer lemon on the grill before cooking shrimp.
* Peel a whole Meyer lemon in one continuous long strand and drop the peel into a mug of hot chocolate.