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Feb 22, 2008 09:24 AM

Sweet lemons?

The other day I bought something called "sweet lemons" at my favourite Middle Eastern grocer. They're about the size and colour of regular lemons, but the skin is a bit smoother and maybe not quite so thick. What did I buy and what should I do with them?

There was a woman beside me also buying them and I asked her about them. She says you just eat them like an orange. Really? You think?

I obviously haven't tried one yet.

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  1. Is it a Meyer Lemon?

    If so, you'll find all kinds of recipes by searching for Meyer Lemon.

    Edit: Nope, nevermind... apparently it's something else.

    1. Ok this is one weird fruit. I juiced one yesterday to use in a marinade for grilled chicken. It's true - these are not sour. In fact they are barely anything at all. There's little of the typical lemon aroma, and the juice has almost no flavour - it's definitely not acidic. I would certainly not use it in a recipe that calls for a normal lemon. The only thing I can think of doing with it is to add to a fruit salad - and even then, they're not as flavourful as an ordinary orange. Very very odd.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Nyleve

        Could they be what are called sweet limes around in Latin markets around here (NYC)? I once asked what turned out to be a kitchen-clueless produce stacker if he knew what they were used for, but the most I could get was "boiling them [apparently but not 100% clearly, whole] in water" with no particular reason for doing so. Jumping to a bit of a conclusion, I'd guess that if the guy didn't invent the whole thing right there, it's one of those things that nobody really "likes" to drink but is supposed to be good for something-or-other chronic or otherwise inevitable like winter chills or old age.(g) Realistically, probably "invented" to make some use of nontoxic fruit that would otherwise just rot on the ground since even animals wouldn't be interested unless there's a drought. (lol)

        IIRC, I think I tried boiling one in a small amount of water but I don't remember the taste, which either means it didn't have much or had so little aroma that I didn't bother to taste it at all. Maybe the guy didn't know you're supposed to poke holes in it or something, but with as little flavor as the flesh has, I don't see that helping. I did cut one up to examine and taste and -- heavy and ripe as it appeared to be -- it was just as you describe, it just sort of "wasn't".

        1. re: MikeG

          Re: Sweet Lemons
          Nyleve & MikeG
          I live on Long Island and have been searching for sweet lemons for years. I was introduced to them in Manhattan about 17 yrs ago, they blew my mind at the time, I didn't know what I was eating/seeing. Looked like a regular lemon-a bit smoother tho- yet sliced and placed in my drink it was sweet like candy, this was also the first time I ever had Thunderbird (LOL). I was told it was sweet lemons and where to get them so I ran over to this hispanic produce store, around the corner, on Amsterdam near 105th St. At the time my spanish was real rusty but I got my point across that I was looking for a sweet Lemon. (G) He pointed me to what looked like a bunch of regular old lemons. The difference was that reg. lemons had a sign saying "Lemons" what he showed me said "Limons" so I bought a few. (whether these were Meyer lemons or not I do not know but it sure sounds the same) When I returned to the apartment they had me peel one and, to my surprise, eat it like an orange, guess what no pucker face. lol It was sweet like candy, like pineapple life savers type of sweet, a flavor that is unmistakeable and unforgetable. I had the news on today at noon and to my surprise Tony Tantillo was talking about Meyer Lemons, it was his tip of the day. :)

          On the right side you will see a video just check through for "Tony's tip of the day: Lemons" it will be dated March 03,2010 1:07pm ET. I had given up looking for Sweet Lemons, so as soon as I saw that I had to get online and search for Meyer Lemons and Here I am. :) You should also check out Tony's Website he talks all about lemons -Acidic types, Sweet, Meyer apparantly although Meyer lemons are sweet there is a big difference between them and Sweet Lemons or "Limettas", Here is the specific page ,there is alot of info re: selection & storage, preparation, availability and type:

          Here is another URL I came across, From the LA Times, with some info and 100 recipes for Meyer lemons ...

          ..... Hope this all helps. Good Luck and I hope you can find the same sweet lemons I had. :) {SMILE} Maybe the ones you got were not fully ripe?

          1. re: ladiblu

            I also live on LI and I recently found them at a local produce store. The store is called John's Farms in Plainview.

        2. re: Nyleve

          They're available around here as "Persian" sweet limes, and I find them lacking in sugar and acid. However, they juice easily, and once adjusted with citric acid and sugar I find the juice makes an excellent limeade with some pleasant added floral aromatics. I added 1 tsp. dried citric acid (carried at Indian markets for pickling) and 2 T. sugar to 1 cup juice.

        3. It is possible that it's a one-off hybrid from a tree in someone's yard. Or orchard. At my local farmers market yesterday I bought some small, orange colored citrus from one of my favorite vendors. He said, "well, it's not a satsuma, but they're really sweet. I just have this one tree in my orchard; I have no idea what it is." And it's true-peels like a satsuma, but tarter and much smaller.

          This jibes with what I've been reading. According to Harold McGee, all modern citrus is derived from mandarin orange, citron, and pommelo. Everything else is some combination of these, or combination of a combination. And since citrus hybridizes so easily it seems entirely possible that you have stumbled upon someone's experiment, rather than an exotic import from the Middle East (which is also entirely possible, of course).

          1. In hunting around the net (always an infallible source of completely accurate information) I did find a page that talked about "sweet lemon" as a variant that could be processed for essential oils, but which wasn't terribly flavorful and didn't really have much commercial value as a food product. This seems to be along the lines of what you bought.

            1. doesn't sound like Meyer (Improved). My Meyers have always had very fragrant skins and piquant if not sour juice. Very aromatic. Thin-skinned when compared to a Eureka or Lisbon; smaller and more rounded, especially as the fruits mature on the tree. Easy to grow in a large tub if you have enough sun.

              1 Reply
              1. re: toodie jane

                About the same size as a regular lemon, rounder and thinner skinned - yes. But I live in a place in Canada where, today at least, the temperature is hovering around -20 celsius. The chances of this thing being a locally grown quirk are, well, zilch. I think Dmnkly probably has it right. It's a nothing lemon. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of them (I think I bought 5). Maybe mix the juice in with fresh OJ. Strange that anyone would ever bother growing (or shipping or buying) anything that has no flavour.