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The Price of Lemons

Last night I obviously sent my husband to the wrong store to pick up a few lemons.

I have a beautiful lemon tree that has and does produce lovely fat lemons. So many I was giving them away, but the season is now over.

He brought me back A lemon. One, as in singular. I think there was a movie something along this same line. Anyway, I looked at the lemon, and I asked, "Oh where are the others?" He looked at me and said "Others?" "Well yes, at least two others."

Ok I am not a cheap skate, but what he answered almost made my head twist off.
Lemons are 99 cents each.......WHAAAAAT???? Ok I just can't wrap my brain around a 99 cent lemon living in an area of the country known for fantastic produce.

What happened? Are others experiencing this rise in price? Who would of known there is money to be made in lemons? My only thought is that it has to be from Chile to warrant that price.

Next December/January, guess who is learning how to make preserved lemons.

Gas, lemons, What next?

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  1. Wow! That's insane. I just paid 4 for a dollar for lemons at the local high-end grocery store. Are you sure he picked up just a regular lemon and not something fancy like a Meyer?

    1. There was a severe freeze in California late last year, many counties are getting federal and state relief/aid. The president may have declared an emergency, it was proposed, I don't know if it happened.

      When I experienced a freeze (91 or 92) it took a couple of years for my lemon tree to resume production and it may have killed the graft. I don't think my tree is currently producing Eureka, they look like Ponderosas.

      According the my local newspaper, citrus is in limited supply, with a supply coming from Arizona.

      1. I am embarrassed to say that one time, at WholeFoods, I paid $1.29 for ONE lemon! I was making a fish dish and had to have it. Rather than schlepping to another store, I just sucked it up and bought it there. But boy, it burned me up.

        1. I thought lemons were expensive even before our freeze. Mainly I guess its because like you I never had to buy lemons. Lemons, Avocados and tomatoes are things we have always grown ourselves our at least knew someone or a few people with trees that were always giving them away. I still never really bought a tomato but I have bought a few lemons and avocados when I really wanted them and yeah they are pricey.

          6 Replies
          1. re: LARaven

            It was a regular, Eureka lemon. Nothing fancy or vry flavorful for that matter, I just don't get it.
            Yes I was here for the freeze, I didn't lose my lemons!!

            1. re: chef chicklet

              You were lucky NOT to lose your lemons. but more than 75% of the commercial crop in California was destroyed.

              Lemons are going to be very expensive for the near future, at least.

              Unfortunately, there are no real substitutes for their sprightly flavor, so I for one will be sucking it up and buying them anyway. But no lemon ice cream or other frills for a while....

              1. re: ChefJune

                So true. I will pay whatever before I turn to the bottle. Seriously, I am going to preserve some next season. But I am curious why the price is $1 here and others in the country are getting them 4 for a buck? grumble. grumble.

                I bought tomato and basil plants the other day, it pays to grow your own if you can!

                1. re: chef chicklet

                  >>But I am curious why the price is $1 here and others in the country are getting them 4 for a buck?<<

                  It could be a function of where the stores in those other parts of the country imported their lemons from, or it could be that the particular grocery store was selling lemons at a lower price as a loss-leader.

                  Here in Los Angeles, lemons *have* been more expensive than usual.

                  1. re: DanaB

                    They may also not be domestic lemons.

                  2. re: chef chicklet

                    4 for a dollar??!! Where? Our rates (Cleveland) are about 89 cents per. Absolutely has to do with the California freeze. I think Florida took a hit as well, though not as bad. As soon as that happened, citrus went up, up, up!

            2. I bought lemons today - 4 for 2$. Seems about on par price wise with what they were last year this time of year - but they were pretty sorry looking lemons.

              1. Some rather puny Meyer lemons were going for $3.50/lb this morning at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

                1. I feel very fortunate. My Meyer lemon tree continues to produce enough to bring to parties, use as garnish and make fresh lemonage for my new favorite cocktail - the "Louis Malle".

                  After 15 years in SF area, we are contemplating a move to Boston. Apart fro the friends, I do believe this tree might be one of the objects I will miss the most. I think some Preserved Lemons are in my future to ease the transition.

                  1. Here in the NYC suburbs the small produce market near me currently has them 8 for $1, (usually they are 10 or 12 for $1.) This is lower than the local supermarkets by quite a bit where they are currently 4 for $1.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        The prices have been going up and down for several months but those are the prices as of last weekend.

                        1. re: JMF

                          And you are referring to lemons, not limes. Right?

                          1. re: Pat Hammond

                            Yep. I have had to buy a lot of lemons and tangerines lately to squeeze for the fresh juice to use in cocktails, because I am in the middle of several weeks of being judged in a cocktail competition.

                            The prices seem to be jumping around as they buy from different suppliers. A few weeks ago lemons were 4 for $1, then the price went down, who knows what is next but I stocked up last weekend and bought 80 lemons for $10 and 60 tangerines for $10.

                    1. I was talking to an owner of a pho restro. Asked him why he was using lemons instead of limes. He told me that a case of lemons was like $30 as what the limes use to be. Then his supplier called to tell him that a case of limes was now over $60. Now that is ridiculous!

                      1. I find that the prices vary widely from store to store. They must use different wholesalers.

                        1. I get my citrus fruits from H-Mart aka Han au Reum (sp?) The lemons and limes are usually 3 or 4 for a dollar. Grapefruit are 3 for a dollar

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: amethiste

                            We have little farm stands that are about a 20 minute drive, I think I might be better off seeing if they are priced better. Ah I see a nice Saturday drive in my future.

                            There is nothing better than good lemons and limes. What are we going to do. Fresh double lemon bars rock, or a wonderful fresh lemon chess pie. Or even that lemon drop cocktail! i have to face it we can't get that flavor anywhere else. Great price on the grapefruit by the by, which I also love, but because of a meds I take can't eat it anymore. Whah!

                            I hope this coming year weather wise is better for all of us. We need a break.

                          2. Citrus prices have been up a little in the bay area, but the ethnic markets are still reasonable. Limes .15 and lemons in the .25-.49 range.

                            My Meyer lemon is still loaded with enough to keep me in Meyer lemon Cosmos through the summer. My lime tree is bearing its first crop this year and I'm putting in my pink striped lemon this weekend. How could I ever move?

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                Please please please share the recipe for Meyer Lemon cosmos - Please :-D

                              2. I live in Massachusetts. There are a few places where I can always buy lemons & limes at 3 for a dollar or cheaper: some independent fruit/vegetable stores; and most asian markets. At the large grocery stores and many smaller ones, lemons are almost always 79 cents. The cheaper lemons tend to be smaller; the ones at the grocery stores tend to be the perfect size, shape, and color--but also have thick skins and aren't at all better than the smaller ones. I honestly think it has less to do with supply, size, shape, source, and much more to do with the fact that people are actually willing to pay 79 cents, or more, for a lemon, and unwilling to make an extra trip to a different store than where they buy their Easy Mac.

                                1. Went to the store today here in the Hudson Valley and bought a (1), singular, lone
                                  lemon. 89¢. Something is definitely going on. You guys buying them 4/$1 are lucky:
                                  the lemon gouging just hasn't reached you yet!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: nurk grl

                                    Look at the gas prices. Anything trucked or shipped is going up.
                                    I't's now cheaper to fly from Spokane WA to Seattle than it is to drive.

                                    1. re: nurk grl

                                      I think you folks in the States are definitely getting hosed. Here in rural Ontario, we were gobstruck by our supermarket food prices when we arrived here - probably about 30 per cent more than the same chains in our cities to the south of us. Even so, I bought 3 good lemons last week for a dollar - Canadian dollar that is. They were marked "product of U.S." and were trucked all the way up here from either Florida or California in a reefer.

                                      1. re: DockPotato

                                        Heck you could probably ship me a few and it would probably be cheaper...seriously you are right we are getting hosed. They are still going at 99 cents each. I'm off to the Mexican Market in a little while, this will be interesting...