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Jul 18, 2001 09:32 PM

Speaking of Meyer Lemons, Caitlin...

  • m

A friend pulled a big cannister full of preserved Meyer lemons out of the fridge. She salted these herself and keeps them on hand for garnish. She diced these to add to the tuna/salmon tartare topped with tobiko. Highly recommended!

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  1. c
    Caitlin McGrath

    Mmm, preseved Meyer lemons do sound good. Sometimes I can convince my folks to ship me some. They've got a big, old tree that's really groaning by this time of year. And the lovely thing is, as my stepmom said when I was there in June, they (fresh-picked, at least) seem to keep forever, and in the fridge, forever and a day. They just get juicier. I think the last of this batch are going to turn into sorbet this week or next.

    They really are one of the specific things I miss most from the Bay Area. Since I grew up with a tree in the yard, Meyer lemons are, for me, the way lemons are supposed to taste. I love all things lemon, but the scent of a Eureka will never send me into rapture.

    BTW, did you read on an earlier thread where Leslie Brenner said she used to bake whole Meyer lemons in her E-Z Bake oven as a kid?

    16 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      It's not hard to preserve them, would imagine you just use the same sort of recipes as to make Moroccan preserved lemons. My friend says it takes about 3 weeks to cure them, then they last for a long time. I can't deal with the delayed gratification. (g)

      Yes, the aroma is the key. These salted things still smelled like Meyers, amazingly.

      I loved Leslie's post. Have you thought of making a Shaker lemon pie to really highlight all that Meyer-ness?

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        Caitlin McGrath

        I've never done a shaker lemon pie--I think I'd need to get one of those plastic mandoline-like slicers to slice the lemons thin enough. Terrific idea, though! I do like to do simple lemon things where I can really taste the difference (and usually see it in the orangey color, to boot)--hence, along with summer weather--the sorbet. This time I forewent the usual lemon merengue and made a lemon version of the classic key lime mixture with condensed milk and eggs in a crumb crust, and the flavor came through nicely. The flavor and aroma both did well also in a pitcher of watermelon lemonade.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          My parents also have a Meyer lemon bush -- nice to have a regular supply, isn't it?

          The last time I cooked dinner at their house, I used their lemons to make Meyer lemon pot de creme, which was unbelievably wonderful (sitting at my desk, I'm not sure which recipe I used, but it was a baked version rather than stove top).

          Another recipe in which Meyers really shine is your basic lemon bar. Simple -- no messing around with pie crust or meringue -- but good: the aroma and color are really highlighted (echoing Iron Chef (g)).

          I won't even mention (ok, I will) the Meyer lemon creme brulee I had at the Ritz Carleton ... it was so light and smooth it needed the crust to keep from floating off the plate. I seem to remember there were also dollops of Meyer lemon cream in the fruit soup palate cleanser -- must be a favorite of the chef (Danko? Portay? can't remember who was at the helm then).

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            if anyone's interested i could be talked into sharing the recipe for meyer lemon bars i used to make when i was the baker at Bryan's.

            my tiny tree which used to be prolific went thru a big shock in my move a few years ago and has never come back to itself, a genuine tragedy if you ask me. in fact just the other day i was contemplating adding another tree to my backyard just in case this one doesn't come back.

            this year i stripped a friends tree of about 50 lemons and made candied zest. it's great to have around. not only does it last forever, but you get the delicacy of scent to use in baked goods if you use just the sugar, or you can fuzz some all up together in the food processor and you have built in zest that's really extra special.

            yes, this would have to be considered my favorite fruit, i probably eat more meyers than apples and oranges put together.

            1. re: Rochelle

              I'd love to have the recipe, although I'll likely go to my grave without ever tasting a Meyer lemon! What do you think of substituting Key limes? Those I can get by the bag here in Maine. Not always, but sometimes. Anything with lemon is fine by me! pat

              1. re: Pat Hammond

                Pat, for you and all those of us who love the lemon! and i don't see any reason these wouldn't work with key limes, i think the acidity is probably very similar, altho it is not often i have used them.

                Meyer Lemon Bars

                use 2 8x8 pans for this recipe. that is the key. 9x13 will produce an entirely different product and i suggest not even trying it. believe me- in creating this we tried everything and 8x8's work best.
                line them with foil and spray with pam. set aside.

                heat the oven to 350

                for the crust:

                1/2 # butter, whipped soft and pale yellow
                zest of 2 lemons ( i use the planer so it's really fluffy)
                (you could add a touch 1/8t lime oil if you were doing limes
                beat in 3/4 c powdered sugar and 2 cups of flour til it come loosely together in a shaggy ball.

                divide in two and press evenly in the bottom of the pans, bake for appx 15 min or until beginning to set
                remove from oven

                meanwhile, while the crust is in the oven put together your filling:

                4 large eggs
                2 large yolks
                beat until light yellow, 4-5 min
                add 2 c sugar and beat to incorporate, 2 min
                add 1/4 c flour, 1t baking powder, zest of 3 lemons and 6 T juice,
                beat on low until mixed well (you don't want to incorporate a lot of air)

                pour evenly over the 2 crusts and put back into the oven for appx 25 min until soft set and giggly like a custard when you wiggle it.

                allow to cool in pan, remove, dust with sifted powdered sugar and chow!

                1. re: Rochelle

                  Printing as I type!! Thank you so much. Maybe I'll be able to find Meyer lemons in NYC next month. With or without them, can't wait to try your recipe. Thanks so much. pat

                  1. re: pat hammond


                    being the recipe hound as i am, and the cook on the other hand it is always a pleasure to share with another who is equally enthusiastic.

                    you're welcome,


                    1. re: pat hammond

                      Meyer lemons are shipped to the east coast from December to March,and sold mainly to fancy food stores and restaurants.Most of their wonderful fragrance resides in their skin,which you can zest into any basic custard recipe and steep to get their essential flavor.You can make a delicious confit by slicing whole lemons into very thin rounds,and layering them with sugar and a little salt for a few days.The rounds will soften and be entirely edible,good with sweet or savory dishes.

                      1. re: M.K.

                        Looks like I might be in business! Thanks. pat

                    2. re: Rochelle

                      Oh, you kind woman to share your recipe. I adore Lemon Bars and Meyer lemons but for some unknown reason didn't think of using the Meyer in my bars (duh). My recipe is on the sweet side and I also prefer to let the lemon outshine the sugar but didn't know how to adjust the recipe. One thousand thank you's!


                  2. re: Rochelle

                    Pretty please the recipe! I've always just used the regular lemon recipe, but I'm guessing that they would be even better if someone with more expertise adjusted the sugar/juice ratio.

                    I've candied Meyer peel, but I've never been completely satisfied with the result, so if you want to share you technique for that, too, it would be much appreciated.

                    Of course, you can actually eat Meyer lemon peel raw -- I've been known to nibble my way through a small pile of juiced rinds while cooking.

                    And does anyone have any tips on lightly candying whole citrus slices? The Confetti branch in the Embarcadero is carrying whole candied orange slices half dipped in dark chocolate that are just out of this world. I've been thinking it would be fun to experiment with similar preparations using other citrus fruits (Meyers, tangelos, pink grapefruit).

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler


                      i did post the recipe for bars, you can of course use either type of lemon, eurekas just give you an entirely different product, bold and outspoken rather than subtle and floral.

                      i've learned over the years to give up some traditional ways when candying meyers. for one they are much more delicate than say a honey tangerine and will not hold up to the same type of preparation prior to cooking. what i've found to work best is to just peel them top to bottom with a regular peeler, candy them and then trim them up to suit your purposes.

                      candying is a very simple process, it just takes time. after you have peeled your fruit, cut it into strips the size you think will be most appropriate for your purposes. be sure to save your cut off bits for they make the best part of all- the candied sugar i call it.

                      put a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. drop your peels into the water and simmer for 5 min. strain and repeat the process 2 more times. this removes all bitterness from the peel.

                      meanwhile prepare a simple syrup to candy your fruit in. this is nothing more than equal parts of sugar and water brought to a gentle boil. at this point i add a candy thermometer and the blanched peels and cook them to 238 or soft ball stage. this is really easy- all you do is let them cook gently, you don't stir or anything.

                      when they come to temp. remove them from the delightfully scented syrup which you'll save in the fridge for summer drinks, and put them on a layer of sugar in a sheet pan. cover with another layer of sugar and plastic wrap. let sit this way for about 3-5 days. after this time just toss the sugar and peels together in a ziplock bag and store in your pantry. it's best to let them sit for 2 weeks before using but rare has been the occassion i've been able to do that.

                      do this same process with your ends and trim, when it's ready to be used put it in the food processor and grind it as finely as possible. now you have fruit sugars that lend deliciousness to any baked goods, scones, sugar cookies...

                      as far as candying whole slices, the only adjustment i would make is to only blanche once rather than three times as you want to leave some of the actual fruit essence. with these it would be important to make sure they are laid out quite flat on the cookie sheet to retain loveliness. i would also suggest using them sooner than you might use just the candied rind.

                      hope this wasn't too rambly and made sense!


                  3. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Caitlin McGrath

                    Oh, yes, I always make lemon bars when I have Meyer lemons I want to savor. I love lemon bars, but will usually only eat the ones I bake myself, because everyone else's are way, way too sweet for me (I want to taste that lemon, plus I don't like my sweets to be really sweet). While I was in town, I mads a some blueberry lemon bars from a Sunset recipe (your basic lemon bars with blueberries folded into the filling), and I was impressed that I did not have to cut the sugar to make them to my taste. It called for I think 1 cup of sugar for a 9x13 pan, where many recipes call for 2 or 3. Both because I want to watch the fat a bit and because I find that too rich a crust detracts from the lemonness of the filling in lemon bars, a trick I have used is to cut back on the butter in the crust and make up for it with some fresh lemon juice.

                    After the sorbet, I think my next Meyer lemon showcase (if I can scare up some more from my perch on the east coast) will be lemon souffles.

                  4. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Meyers make a wonderful Shaker lemon pie. The peel is so soft and non-bitter that the lemon slices don't have to sit in the sugar overnight. I usually leave them about 3 hours before mixing in the eggs. The lemons can be sliced with a sharp knife, and since they sometimes can be rather soft and juicy they can be too delicate to slice with a mandoline.
                    Martha Stewart's cookbook, Pies and Tarts, has a recipe for this pie, but it was too sweet for me, so I use twice as many lemons and one fourth to onr third as much sugar with the same number of eggs. It does depend on how sweet your lemons are, though. For the crust I use a technique sort of like a mock puff pastry, then cut parallel slices like the picture in the book and brush with an egg white wash. I turns out to be as beautiful as the picture and really delicious. (I don't recommend the cookbook, just the pictures. Ha!)

                    Sally Schmitt at the Apple Farm tosses Meyer lemon peel in sugar and bakes (watch carefully) a sort time to crisp the peel and uses it on desserts. It gets crispy after removing it from the oven. A San Francisco chef candies his peel in a sugar syrup without blanching it first, and incorporates it into his lemon souffle.

                    Even though Meyers are now grown commercially, the ones
                    I have bought at the store are not as sweet or as fragrant as the ones on my potted trees or my friends trees. Better than nothing though.

                    Another wonderful Meyer lemon dessert is the ice cream in the Chez Panisse Desserts book. Now there's a cookbook worth having!

                    1. re: Ann Leneave
                      Caitlin McGrath

                      Thanks for the advice on shaker lemon pie. Lemon dessert recipes--even made with Eurekas--tend to be way too sweet for my taste, so I'm always cutting back the sugar, but I'm especially careful with Meyers and usually both ciut the sugar way back and increase the lemon (I'm not a fan of sugary sweets).

                      I have the original Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli, which also has some nice Meyer lemon things.

              2. I keep hearing all about Meyer lemons...I'm on the East Coast and can't find a single one. Where and how can I get Meyer lemons????

                2 Replies
                1. re: Toni Runci

                  MK mentions (link below)) that East Coast commercial sources are available from Dec. to March. Calif. coastal residents may still have fruit on the trees in their backyards now for private uses.

                  You might want to post a message on your regional board to find out where to buy them in your town.


                  1. re: Toni Runci
                    Joann Creekmore

                    Hi Toni,

                    This is one solution.
                    I also live on the East coast and have had a very hard time finding Meyer's lemons. I use lemons quite often when cooking and decided to buy my own tree! After an exhusting search thru-out our local nursery's with no results I got on the computer and typed in lemon trees and voila! I now have a beautiful 4ft. Myers on the deck that smells wonderful and is already dripping with about 16 lovely unripen lemons!

                    The nursurey I ordered from is:
                    Jene's Tropicals in FL.
                    PH# 727-344-1668 Fax# 727-381-4415

                    They were very helpful, and pleasent to deal with, and my tree arrived with full instructions.
                    I did order a 5 year old which is a little more expensive, $49.00 I believe without shipping. You can get younger ones, but then you have to wait a few years for the fruit.

                    With the price of lemons here in E.Tennesse, I'm figuring this tree will pay for itself in no time. :-
                    )As long as I can keep it alive of course.

                    Not lemon dependent anymore!
                    Joann Creekmore