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What are Meyer lemons?

Meyer lemon slices

Meyer lemons get more popular every year, and what was a relatively unknown fruit just a few years ago can now be found on restaurant menus, in mainstream supermarkets and food/home magazines. Meyer lemons aren’t lemons; they’re actually a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a lemon. The cross was originally developed in China, where both types of citrus fruit occur naturally. The fruit was brought into the US in the early 1900s by a man named Frank Meyer, after whom the lemons are named.

Meyer lemons are generally smaller than regular lemons, with a spherical shape and a thin peel. They tend to be more of a golden color than a bright yellow. Since Meyers are a hybrid, they have a different flavor than standard lemons. They are slightly sweeter and much less acidic. They still taste like lemons, of course, they just don’t have the same zesty bite to them. They’re more expensive than regular lemons, but tend to be very juicy.

I should also note that although most Meyer lemons will fit in with this description, not all of them will. I am lucky enough to have a small Meyer lemon tree (note that it can be cheaper to keep a small tree in a yard or a large pot than buying Meyer lemons when they’re in season) and my lemons are huge. They’re easily three times the size of the lemons I see in stores and they have a fairly thick rind, although the Meyer lemon flavor is spot-on.

Meyer lemons are a good choice for most recipes that call for lemon because you can get a full lemon flavor without having to add excess sugar (or other ingredients) to temper the acidity of the lemon. They’re great in desserts and all kinds of baked goods, and work wonderfully in savory dishes where you don’t want lemon to overwhelm the rest of the meal. That being said, they’re not the greatest choice for lemon recipes where you really want that extra acidity – like lemonade, for instance.

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  • Mama JJ
    January 27, 2009

    I’d like to hear more about your lemon tree. Where did you get it? What does it take to cultivate it? How many lemons do you get from it? And so on…


  • Sallie
    January 27, 2009

    I buy my Meyer lemons from http://www.lemonladies.com They are always fresh, juicy and great. Glad to hear about these lemon thins.

  • Linda
    January 27, 2009

    I’d love to have a lemon tree but I’d kill it. I’m death on plants. I do love to use the Meyer lemons in recipes and look forward to them each year. Mostly I buy them from TJs but occasionally find some at a decent price at other grocery stores.

  • R.E.D.
    January 27, 2009

    We have aMeyer Lemon Tree that was a gift from our daughter. It is planted in a square container
    with a well draining planting material. It sets on the back covered porch facing south so it gets the full Texas sun. It is about five ft tall and has a spred of about 4 ft. It was moved into the garage in December 08 and went into full bloom. The blossoms are white about 1 to 11/2 inches wide with long narrow petals. The
    aroma in sweet and the garage never smelled better. It is about 4 yrs old and had, if I remember correctly had 6 lemons. The next season
    it had over 20 the third year only 3. You need to watch for catapillars because they eat the leaves and buds. I expect a bumper crop this year
    because of the heavy bloom. The tree needs to be
    watered on a regular basis. They have very sharp thorns and I have cut all of them off, so caution
    should be taken, especilly with small children.
    They do not take a lot of work, so if you want one get it and get a large pot. Take care of it and it will pay you back in Lemons

  • Jenni
    January 28, 2009

    Love Meyer Lemons. Made Meyer lemon curd and was a Very Happy Girl! I found some at a little farmer’s market once. A lady was selling them from her tree in her back yard. 12/$1! Steal! So I loaded up like the Grinch loaded up at CindyLou Who’s house and skulked away with my $3 sack o’ lemons:)

  • Heidi
    January 29, 2009

    I live in Las Vegas. We have a Meyer lemon tree that every year gives us an over abundance of gorgeous lemons. Ours are huge also. Probably twice the size of lemons you see in the grocery store. You have to use them up though or they will give baked goods a metallic taste. The juice freezes well though and can be used for sauces and lemonade throughout the year.

  • Mrs. L
    January 29, 2009

    My grandmother has had Meyer Lemon trees in her back yard as long as I can remember. Like yours, they tend to be pretty big, but have that same wonderful meyer lemon flavor that the smaller ones do.

  • asian recipes
    February 22, 2009

    Thanks for the wonderful information about Meyer lemons, its a very useful articles!

  • Genevieve
    August 12, 2012

    Just FYI, a thick rind on Meyer lemons is often caused by either too much nitrogen (from manure or fertilizers with a lot of the first number) or not enough phosphorus. Try adding some bone meal around the base of your lemon. It may even improve the flavor of the lemons!

  • Sharon
    February 5, 2014

    Will meyer lemon ok n trees grow in a cold climate, ohio

  • vinson
    December 10, 2015

    My 3rd year with Meyers tree this is the first time it has produced lemons love it about 12 lemons so far

  • Laura
    August 16, 2016

    Meyer Lemons are pricey…..but so worth it.

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