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Key Limes, Meyer Lemons who will know?

Do these sometimes HTF ingredients really make a difference in my soon to be famous cream cheese pound cakes?

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  1. Having not yet eaten a Meyer lemon, I understand they are slightly sweeter than key limes. I have a tree in my backyard--am anxiously awaiting my first taste.

    I've made key lime cheesecake before. Not sure which one you are having a harder time finding (the lemons or the limes), but you might check other similar recipesto see if there's more or less sugar when using one fruit vs. the other.

    More info here (plus recipes):

    6 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      Thanks for the link! I live in southeastern VA and was just wondering if I could grow key limes or meyer lemons. How fun to try.

      1. re: VAfoodie

        You're welcome. I live in CT, so Limona the Lemon Tree will be hibernating in my living room when the weather gets cooler.

        For more info on growing citrus, see here. Other hounds were very knowledgeable when I asked for help on the Gardening board:

      2. re: kattyeyes

        I didn't think Key Limes and Meyer Lemons were interchangable!!
        In the backyard, we have a Mexican Lime and a Meyer Lemon tree. I would never use the lemons in place of the lime.

        1. re: mollygirl

          Right, my suggestion was to check recipes for whatever fruit the OP was having a hard time finding to see if recipes called for more/less sugar based on the selected fruit. Now, in Mexico, they substitute limes for lemons in a lemon drop shot (they make lime drops) and those work just fine for me! :)

          1. re: mollygirl

            I don't think the OP was asking whether they were interchangeable with each other, rather key limes with conventional limes and meyer lemons with regular lemons.

            1. re: mollygirl

              Why not? I use either depending on what's available. I have a mutt lemon, a Meyer lemon and Mexican lime trees.

          2. Yes I have them both in my backyard and the Meyer is quite a bit jucier and somewhat sweeter.

            6 Replies
            1. re: malibumike

              Did you get your trees from a local nurserie or mail order?

              1. re: VAfoodie

                I got them from a local nursery about 20 years ago.

                1. re: malibumike

                  Where was the nursery? I'm trying to figure out if I should order one or try to find one in Virginia.

                  1. re: VAfoodie

                    I believe it was Armstrong Nursery out here in CAlifornia. Ocassionally Home Depot carries some good fruit trees.

                2. re: VAfoodie

                  I'm growing a dwarf Eureka Lemon and an ornamental Caluenda in Northern VA. I ordered from Four Winds Growers -- the link in the post further upthread. It's rate to find citrus for sale in VA as you have to get them through the winter somehow and often they don't like spending the winter in a living room. Me? I have an unheated garage that is part of the house so it never gets colder than 40 degrees and that was on a night where it was five degrees. I put it under fluorescent lights. So far the Caluenda has overwintered twice and has given me lots and lots of ping-pong fruits. The lemon was only purchased this year so no fruit yet -- you must expect the first year or two to have little to no harvest,.

                3. re: malibumike

                  in addition to being sweeter, Meyers are also more floral. the distinct flavor & aroma make them worth seeking out for the best possible result.

                4. I think the answer to your question --- will it make a difference --- depends on what you are making. The Meyer l and the Key l definitely are different from the usual fruit, but the differences will be lost in some things, I think. You would definitely tell the difference in a lemon curd, for example, but may be not in your cream cheese pound cake where the other ingredients like the cream cheese will mute the difference.

                  1. The difference is huge. A Meyer lemon isn't a true lemon, but supposedly a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. Not just more sugar and less acid than a standard lemon, but a fundamentally different flavor.

                    Key limes (aka Mexican limes, bartender's limes, etc.) are also sweeter and less acidic than Persian limes. If you're just talking about a spritz of juice, they're probably interchangeable, but if the limes are a prominent part of the flavor of the dish, the substitution will be noticeable.

                    My Meyer lemon tree used to give bushels of fruit every winter. It appears to be succumbing to old age, though; several branches have died off and there's only one lemon so far this year. Sniff.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Hmm.. I've read that as an official name for Key limes but now in L.A. I've seen some terrific limes sold as "Mexican limes" that cannot be Key limes - and what is wonderful is that we also see plenty of Key limes here (also grown in Mexico) - the flavor profile is way different. The first Mexican limes I mentioned are, to me, regular limes like Americans think of them but with a little yummier salty bite vs. the bigger traditional "Persian" limes. The Key lime is way more sour and tart and lacks, well, what I think of as primary lime flavor.

                      I'd never had limes as tasty as the limes marketed out here as Mexican limes (not Key limes)... just in case anyone is shopping out in L.A., there might be some terminology evolution or regional usage coming into play here. Best take pics with you.

                      The way I see them in stores, there are:

                      regular Persian limes - often kind of big, puckered at the ends, dimpled skins
                      "Mexican limes" that are not Key - smaller, smoother skin, less pucker, softer
                      Key limes - smaller yet, like a golf ball or smaller, less consistent green shading (sometimes yellow)

                      Linda Whit's post on this thread gets into it a little more:

                      And yes I'm sure that what is traditional Key lime, as in the pie tied to the Florida Keys, utilizes what I speak of here as Key limes rather than the (even if possibly routinely misnamed) "Mexican limes" I've had from L.A. stores.

                      1. re: Cinnamon

                        I'd always considered them interchangeable, but apparently Mexican limes are a distinct subspecies of key limes.


                        Learn something every day.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Well they're darn tasty... most tempting to chew on... which I would never do with what I'd consider a Key lime! Ack.

                    2. just as a side note - i prefer neither of these to the more usual "versions" of these fruits

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: thew

                        Same here. I far prefer regular lemon. I find Meyer lemon rather dull.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          They're certainly different animals (so to speak). Meyers have some special characteristics, as noted above - sweeter, less acidic, floral, rounder flavor - and they definitely don't have that zing! that Eurekas have that really says lemon to most people. Used in cooking, they don't "lift" dishes with that pleasant acidic spark the same way Eurekas do.

                      2. Huge difference between the taste of a Meyer lemon and a "regular" lemon. Likewise between the taste of a Key lime and a Persian Lime. If you're going to market those cheese cakes you definitely want to use the real Thing, and advertise such. But if you advertise Meyer/Key and us the other stuff someone is gonna call you on it.

                        1. Oh yes they do. You need to try some of each, they are uniquely different.

                          1 Reply
                          1. All you have to do is label them appropriately rather than try to slide one by- I'm sure they'll all be fabulous, but yeah, they'll taste different depending on what citrus you use in them.

                            1. VAfoodie
                              RE: Key Limes, Meyer Lemons who will know?
                              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 yet sliced and placed in my drink it was sweet like candy. I was told where to get them and ran over to this hispanic produce store. At the time my spanish was real rusty but I got my point across that I was looking for a sweet Lemon and 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. (Like the key lime). To my knowledge key limes mostly come from Florida they are much smaller, rounder and sweeter then regular limes. They are not as sweet as candy, I wouldn't peel one and eat one But like the sweet lemon still lets you know its taste like lemon, the key lime still taste like lime. They do make the most awsome key lime pie. These days we can buy the key limes in local supermarket chains, they are in small net bags - about 10 per bag with a recipe on the label for the traditional Key Lime pie. You can also buy Key lime juice in a bottle, the best brand is Rosa's or Mama Rosa's, something like that. Check it out you might find yourself creating different versions of your "Soon to be famous cream cheese pound cakes". I would love to know how things work out and be one of your first customers. :) Here is an URL I came across, From the LA Times, with some info and 100 recipes for Meyer lemons as well as ads selling the trees...
                              ..... Hope this all helps. Good Luck and Happy Baking. :) {SMILE}