Although winter can be the dreariest season, it brings gifts of vibrant citrus in a variety of colors, sizes and flavors. One of our most beloved citrus fruits of the season is the wonderfully aromatic Meyer lemon.
Native to China as an ornamental tree, the Meyer lemon was brought to the US in 1908 as a sample plant by agricultural explorer, Frank Nicholas Meyer. In the 1950’s nearly all Meyer lemon trees in California were destroyed by a virus that threatened the entire citrus industry, but a virus free portion was spared. From these few trees the “Improved Meyer Lemon” tree was reintroduced to repopulate the crop. In the 1990’s their popularity soared when they were rediscovered by popular chefs of California Cuisine like Alice Waters.
Meyer lemons tend to be rounder than standard lemons with a fragrant and soft deep golden skin. A hue of orange is often in their coloring which likely comes from the mandarin that is in their family lineage. Their flavor is heavily perfumed, sweet and hardly tart, unlike standard lemons. They are also extremely juicy which makes them a joy to cook with.
At The Kitchen, we use locally grown Meyer lemons from our some of our favorite farmers. We preserve them by slicing them, adding sea salt and sugar, and then letting them cure in their own juice for 3 weeks. This allows their flavors to intensify, any tartness to mellow, and their skin to soften. The preserved lemons are pureed then strained into a buttery beurre blanc sauce to impart their wonderfully vibrant lemon flavor. Surely this is bound to bring some brightness into our mid-winter menus.