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Seasonal Eats: Marvelous Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons at the Farmer's Market (Heather Parlato/LAist)
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For the first time in awhile, I've seen Meyer lemons back at the farmer's market. Meyer lemons are native to China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin or orange. Brought back from a trip to China by Frank Meyer about 100 years ago, they grow well in warm climates in orchards or garden pots as ornamental trees with a winter seasonality in the California climate.

Meyer lemons are typically a deeper yellow-orange and a rounder shape than more common Eureka lemons. They have a sweeter and less acidic flavor, and the distinct fragrance of their skins gives a unique citrus accent to dishes that use the zest. One trick in getting to know these fruits, trade them in for Eureka lemons in any of your favorite lemon recipes and see what you think. Meyer lemons have a glycemic load of 3, are mildly anti-inflammatory and are a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic acid, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium and Copper.

5 ways to enjoy Meyer lemons:

Preserved Meyer Lemons — An amazingly-flavorful preservation you can make while the lemons are in season and enjoy all year-round. This post has a list of how to use them, too.

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Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Meyer Lemons — Add this less-intense lemon right into your roasting pan dishes of root vegetables, or along-side chicken or lamb with the roasting vegetables.

Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Basil — Enjoy the tangy, bright flavor in your vegetable and herb pastas, a little goes a long way.

Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Compote — The compote in this recipe is truly delicious, uses less sugar than many other recipes, and goes well with both meats and steamed or grilled vegetables.

Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavender Cream — this is not just a lemon cake, it layers in flavors of Meyer lemon curd and lavender cream for a deeply fragrant dessert.