meyer lemon’s fleeting season – is NOW! (with recipe)

clayirving/Flickr via Creative Commons*

clayirving/Flickr via Creative Commons*

The produce section of my local supermarket is so lackluster that it generally discourages me from buying of any fresh vegetable except onions or bananas. Wandering through on my way to buy ice cream yesterday, I spotted a trove of Meyer lemons – six for $2 – and knew that these fabulous citrus had finally made their way from “gourmet” to mass market. Although Meyer lemon season usually starts winding down in March, the lemons were in good shape. When I scratched the skin of one, its unique perfume was released: like lemon and tangerine with floral undertones.

I squeezed two of the lemons right off the bat, making what is akin to a sour aromatic orange juice. Diluted with a little water, and sweetened with sugar, it is an amazing drink  – not my idea but one I learned on a visit to Martha Stewart’s compound in Connecticut  years ago (THAT is another story). Martha had her housekeeper squeeze tons of Meyer Lemons when they were in season and kept the juice frozen – one of her many good ideas, if you happen to have freezer space. Lack of it encourages you to enjoy Meyer Lemons in their season, in the moment. Now!

Meyer lemons will actually last several weeks in the fridge. I use the zest, removed with a vegetable peeler and cut into fine slivers, in everything…to brighten up chicken salad or slaws or  stews…Juice and grated zest add an incredible perfume to plain cakes and butter cookies and makes a spectacular lemon curd, to fill a baked tart shell or sandwich between cake layers with some creme fraiche.

Layered into a tall glass with vanilla ice cream, the curd becomes a mind-blowing adult Creamsicle…

Recipe: Tart, Ethereal Meyer Lemon Curd

Classic lemon curd is basically a custard made of egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice and enriched with lots of butter until it has the consistency of a thick jam. I leave out the butter to make a lighter, ethereal curd. To make delicious lemon tarts, fold some whipped creme fraiche into the cooled curd before spreading in a baked pastry shell.

Makes  about 1 cup

1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
About 1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg 1 egg white
One 3″ x 1″ strip lemon zest

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Set aside to soften. In a medium stainless steel bowl, or top of a double boiler, combine the remaining ingredients. Set the bowl over, but not in, simmering water. (Although it may be cooked directly on a low flame in a heavy saucepan, using a bain marie or water bath insures that it won’t over cook).

Whisk constantly until the curd is thick and coats the back of a soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir in the gelatin mixture and cook 1 minute longer. Strain into a medium bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

Transfer to a clean, dry jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The curd will keep about 1 week; cover and refrigerate.

*Photo via Creative Commons License

10 Responses to meyer lemon’s fleeting season – is NOW! (with recipe)

  1. Elizabeth 03.16.2010 at 11:41pm #

    I have several Meyer lemon trees in pots in my backyard — backyards, I believe, in southern California, were the original source of these fantastic fruit!

  2. donna 03.17.2010 at 4:28am #

    you should try making limonciell’ with them (lemoncello)
    here is my family recipe straight from the amalfi coast
    1 litre grain alcohol
    1 litre water
    1 kilo granulated sugar
    8 lemons (untreated i.e. no pesticides)

    very carefully peel the zest from the lemons (I use a truffle slicer but a good sharp vegetable peeler will work) with as little of the pith as possible attached.
    put the lemons aside – you can squeeze them and freeze the juice for later use, or make lemonade or lemon merengue pie, etc)
    put the peels and the alcohol in a large mason jar and close tightly. Place in a cool, dark place for 3 o 4 days.
    when the peels are almost white and “crack” when you bend them and the alcohol has taken the colour of the lemon peels – you are ready for the next step.
    Boil the water and sugar for about 10-15 minutes to make a light syrup and cool to room temperature.
    When the syrup is cool, strain alcohol into the syrup, bottle and age for a couple of weeks (yes, you may taste some!)
    keep a bottle in the freezer, it is a great after dinner drink and the italians say it helps the digestive process. Great on vanilla ice cream also!
    enjoy!

  3. Peggy Markel 03.17.2010 at 9:22am #

    Hi Sally,

    I just returned from Santa Barbara where indeed, the Meyer lemons were in season.
    Superb flavor and aroma, I used them to make curd for a class I was teaching and showed people how to preserve them as well. I like to have a choice between a standard preserved lemon and a Meyer. I can use them in different dishes according to when I want a brighter tart note or slightly sweet. It takes 3 weeks to preserve lemons. If you find you are not using them whole for the pulp or the rind, The best trick is to blend them with olive oil for a paste. It keeps a long time and you can use a spoonful in this and that.

  4. Toussaint 03.17.2010 at 11:02am #

    I was in Fla, but missed the season. They did have sweet lemons which were a suprise, I’d never tasted them before.
    The curd recipe looks delightful.

  5. Beth Willson 03.17.2010 at 11:19am #

    Did you say there is a recipe for making the preserved lemons? I would also like to have some recipes or ideas of were I can use them, the whole and paste that you talk about. This is new to me and I would like to try it. I’d also like to try making the lemon curd. Thank you so much!

  6. Beth Willson 03.17.2010 at 11:21am #

    Silly me, this page opened on your post and when I saw I could scroll up, found the recipe, thanks!

  7. Kristina 03.17.2010 at 3:35pm #

    If I put the curd into sterilized jars and boil in a water bath will it keep?

  8. Sally 03.17.2010 at 3:44pm #

    Hi Kristina, I’m sorry to say I have no experience canning this and don’t know the vagaries of acidity, and egg yolks etc for storage in this way. I’m thinking that the gelatin might break down from exposure to such high heat. That being said, I’d look into recipes for classic lemon curds made with butter, which I know can be canned. Sorry I can’t be of more help. S.

  9. Sally 03.17.2010 at 3:51pm #

    Hey Peggy, do you have a recipe you can post for us of your preserved lemons, that you learned on one of your amazing Culinary Adventures?!!

  10. Kristina 03.18.2010 at 4:48pm #

    Hi Sally-
    thank you. I’ll do that!

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