What Are Meyer Lemons?
The Meyer lemon – named after agricultural explorer Frank Meyer — has been in the United States since the early 1900s, but they were too fragile to ship commercially and a virus in the 1960s nearly did them in. One particularly hardy stock became the basis for the Asian hybrid lemon that has recently become the darling of chefs, farmers, and backyard horticulturists. Martha Stewart is a big fan of these fantastic little fruits!
You can think of the Meyer lemon as a cross between the traditional lemon we all know and love and a mandarin orange. You may also compare it to the difference between a traditional lime and a Key lime. The aromatic Meyer lemon has the golden color of an egg yolk, a thin edible rind, a juicy interior, and surprisingly delightful sweetness.
Meyer Lemon Nutrition
When compared to a regular lemon, Meyer lemons do have 10 more calories, but many people are surprised to learn they have 1 gram less of sugar/carbohydrates, even though they taste sweeter. Another surprising difference is the amount of folate in a Meyer lemon – 8% of your daily value, compared to just 2% with a regular lemon! You’re also getting goodies like copper, manganese, pantothenic acid, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and magnesium.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Meyer Lemons
1. Immune system boost –Packed with ample vitamin C antioxidants, citric acid, calcium, magnesium, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene, your body will be turbocharged to rid itself of free radicals and toxins.
2. Antibacterial – There’s a reason why lemons are used in cleansers so often! Try gargling with warm Meyer lemon water when you feel the first tickle of a sore throat. It can also be used to help you maintain a clear complexion.
3. Heart health – Meyer lemons are potassium rich making them a good choice for blood pressure and heart rate regulation.
4. Digestive health – Lemon water is a great way to start your day and detox the liver. The peel of the Meyer lemon, in particular, contains a chemical that may help strengthen the stomach lining and prevent heartburn.
5. Mental health – The aromatic scent of lemons is often used in aromatherapy to promote a sense of tranquility, ease anxiety, and stimulate brain function.
Tips for Finding, Buying & Storing Meyer Lemons
- Finding: California and Arizona produce about 95 percent of the crop, so they are readily available in these two states. People in forums have mentioned finding them at local farmer’s markets and at big chains like Whole Foods. In a pinch, you can always order a crate on Amazon.
- Buying: Peak season for sweetness runs from November through March. Choose a firm and plump fruit with smooth, bright yellow skin. If you can rub your fingernail across the skin and smell a distinct perfume, you’ve found a good one! Avoid ones that have soft spots or appear green.
- Storing: Keep in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to a week or sealed in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to four weeks. You can also juice the lemons into cubes and freeze.
There are more than 100 different uses for this type of lemon – from desserts, soups and salads, to sauces, roasts and cocktails. Here are a few to try at home:
- Creamy Lemon Chicken Kale Soup
- Bobby Flay’s Lemon Potatoes
- Meyer Lemon Chicken
- Italian Butter Beans with Meyer Lemon and Tarragon
- Meyer Lemon Salsa Verde
- Chicken with Preserved Meyer Lemon and Olives
- Gluten-free Meyer Lemon Cake
- Meyer Lemon Butter
- Creamy Split Pea Soup with Meyer Lemon
Photo Credit: © Matthew Jones – Fotolia.com