Meyer lemon season is here



Meyer lemon season is here – the time when this delicious little citrus fruit squeezes its way into many Chefs’ hearts.  An equally balanced blend of sweetness and tartness and slightly sweeter than a true lemon, it often carries a hint of tangerine flavour in the flesh.  he skin is soft and glows with shine and will develop an orange hue as it ripens.

Meyer lemons originated from Ancient China and are similar to a Japanese Yuzu fruit, but slightly smaller in size. Its appearance resembles a cross between a lemon and small navel orange. The rinds are floral and fragrant and are often used to flavour dishes in Asian cuisine.

First introduced to North America in the early 1900’s, they became widely planted in California by the 1940’s.  Our short growing season prevents commercial planting in Canada, however the trees are widely offered at local nurseries. If you aren’t inclined to grow your own, these little yellow gems are usually available at grocery stores from January to April.

The applications for using Meyer lemons are the same as any lemon: lemonade, marmalade, limoncello… the sky is the limit. Since the season is fleeting, there are few ways you can reserve them for use at a later date.

Preserved. The simplest way to preserve Meyer lemons is to wash and dry them, and place them in an air tight container covered with Kosher salt or coarse sea salt and store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Dried zest. The thin outer peel can be air dried or oven dried. If you live near the coast you should use a food dehydrator or the oven. For oven drying, preheat your oven to 325 C. Lay lemon peels on a rack. When the oven comes to temperature, place the rack of lemon peels into oven, close the door, shut the temperature off and keep it in the oven overnight.  Store peels in an air tight container.

Freezing. There’s really no trick to this – simply juice the lemon and freeze it. One tip is to freeze the juice in an ice tray so they are perfectly portioned one ounce cubes.  Now you just need to pop them out of the tray for your next recipe!

Pairing with wine

Organic citric acid is a natural component of Meyer lemon and it is also an essential key to wine pairing. Typically you want to choose a wine that has a good amount of acid to match the natural state of acidity in the dish you create.  If you choose a wine that is lower in acidity than the Meyer lemon, the wine will taste flat and flabby. Here are some wine pairing ideas for your next Meyer lemon recipes.

Meyer lemon sparkling fruit cocktail
Paired with 8th Generation Vineyards ‘Integrity’ Frizzante

8th Generation’s lightly sparkling style wine consists of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Gris.  With notable flavours of apple, citrus and pear, it already tastes like fruit cocktail in a glass.   Garnishing the wine with assorted fresh melon tossed in mint syrup and Meyer lemon juice is the perfect way to begin a Sunday brunch.

Meyer lemon and coconut curry
Paired with CedarCreek Estate Winery Ehrenfelser 2011

There are endless interpretations in curry preparation – next time try enhancing yours with a hint of Meyer lemon zest.  Fresh or dried it will certainly add another dimension to your favorite curry.  The CedarCreek Ehrenfelser exhibits flavours of citrus, nectarines, peaches and pears and has the rich viscosity to stand up to the spiciest of curries.  Also, the grapes were planted in 1977 and are considered to be some of the oldest plantings in the Okanagan Valley.

Meyer lemon tart
Paired with Rollingdale Winery Pinot Gris ‘Sweet tooth Series’ Ice Wine 2006

Who doesn’t like a little lemon tart on a special day, especially when everyday is a special day!  A well made Meyer lemon curd can be quite heavenly and only a wine of rare quality will pair with this sweet and smooth creation. The Rollingdale ice wines have characters of honey and apricot, and are just as luscious as lemon cream.

The next time you see a Meyer lemon on the shelf, don’t hesitate to bring some home and share it with someone as sweet as this lemon.

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