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Why we love Meyer lemons

People love these yellow beauties because they have a sweet flavor and floral aroma


Meyer lemons may even have a slightly orange flavor, and an even deeper yellow almost orange color. Meyer lemons took the culinary world by storm after Alice Waters took up their cause in 1980's and incorporated them into both savory and sweet recipes.

But Meyer lemons have been around a lot longer than California Cuisine. They were identified in 1908 by none other than Frank N. Meyer and are thought to be a cross between Eureka and Lisbon lemons. Their beautiful floral aroma adds distinctive complexity to cocktails, relishes and salads. They can be eaten as-is without the mouth-puckering astringency that other lemons have.

Below are a few fun recipes to take advantage of the bounty we are so fortunate to have in our own backyards!

And if you're fortunate enough to have an abundance, here are some more suggestions for preserving lemons while they're in season:

  • Dehydrate or "candy" strips of peel for garnishing

  • Chop up whole lemons, macerate with sugar, and use as ice cream topping or pastry ingredient

  • Make marmalade

  • Juice lemons, freeze juice in ice cube trays, and store cubes in bag in freezer


Preserved Meyer Lemons

A lovely way to preserve the abundance of lemons in Northern California after the winter holidays.

Makes 1 quart, which lasts in refrigerator for up to 2 years.

variety of citrus fruits on cutting board


6-7 Meyer lemons

1/4 cup kosher or sea salt

8 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 whole dried red pepper (optional)

— Extra lemons for juice

1 sterilized half-liter jar


  1. Put one tablespoon of the salt into the bottom of the jar.

  2. Cut the lemons into quarters, from the top down, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch of the lemon still joined as one.

  3. Sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh and press into lemons.

  4. Pack the lemons tightly into the jar, adding the peppercorns, bay leaf and red pepper (if desired) as you go, and more salt evenly between layers. If the juice produced by packing them into the jar isn’t enough to cover them, add more lemon juice until they are submerged. Leave a little airspace at the top and seal the jar.

  5. Store the jar at room temperature for 30 days, shaking the jar occasionally.

  6. After 30 days, store the preserved lemons in the refrigerator. To use, remove one quarter lemon from jar, rinse and pat dry; chop up the rind and add to pan sauces just before serving to preserve flavor.

These are delicious in the Pan-seared sea bass recipe from last week's blog.


Lemon Shortbread

Lemon Shortbread photo courtesy of Press Democrat Christopher Chung

... with Meyer lemons and rosemary, which are both abundantly in season in Northern California in the winter months

Makes 3 dozen


2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted organic butter, room temperature

1 cup organic sugar

3 ½ T. Meyer lemon zest

1 T. rosemary leaves, whole or chopped

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice

3/4 tsp. fine sea salt

3 ½ cups organic all-purpose flour


Cream together the butter, sugar, zest and rosemary for about 2 minutes on medium speed. The mixture will be smooth and well-incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, juice, salt, and flour all at once and blend just until it is incorporated.

Chill the dough for about 20 to 30 minutes until it can be rolled out easily. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick, or a little thicker. Cut the cookies into squares or use a cookie cutter to make other shapes. Then chill the dough for up to three to four hours.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Place chilled shapes on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar and maybe a few poppy seeds. Bake for about 10 minutes, just until bottoms appear a bit golden.

[Image credit: Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat]


Meyer lemon relish

A citrus condiment to brighten up those dark winter days

Makes 1 cup


5 Meyer lemons

2 oranges

1 tsp. finely chopped shallots

1 tsp. chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley)

½ tsp. chopped fresh garlic

4 anchovy filets, chopped

2 T. chopped capers

2 T. olive oil

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Optional: Add 3/4 cup pitted picholine olives (or other green olives)


  1. Zest the oranges and lemons. Place zest into a bowl with the garlic, anchovies, capers, shallots and herbs (and olives if included). Remove the peel from 1 of the oranges and 2 of the lemons. Dice the fruit into tiny pieces and add to bowl. Stir in extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

  2. Relish can be kept refrigerated for 3 or 4 days. Serve with slow roasted salmon or almost any seafood, or roasted cauliflower steaks.


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