Paris-Grown Meyer Lemon

Paris-Grown Meyer Lemon

About a year ago, I posted a recipe for one of my favorite cakes, a flourless orange and ginger cake. In the course of the comment conversation, I mentioned that the recipe could also be made with other citruses, and Meyer lemons in particular. Meyer lemons are a variety of lemon, believed to stem from the love affair between an orange (or maybe a mandarin) and a lemon. They are said to be sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, and their pulp is a little darker.

One of my readers and real-life friends, Christoph (who comes from Germany, lives in Paris with his lovely wife Susanne and is a wonderful cook) tried the recipe, loved it, brought it to work, got promoted, and decided to try the cake with Meyer lemons. Only Meyer lemons are nowhere to be found in Paris (or if they are please point me to them!). So Christoph, never one to give up in the face of obstacles, decided to grow his own, found a little Meyer lemon tree and waited, promising me that I would get my share from the first harvest.

And the tree did well, it made it through one summer and one winter and bloomed and bore fruit, and Christoph, a man of his word, solemnly gave me what he had promised. One precious Meyer lemon.

Me, I’m tempted to just drink the juice, but he suggests I make sorbet with it (I don’t own a sorbet-maker, so it will have to be more of a hand-stirred granité, which is fine by me). As for the rind, I would love to candy it, but Susanne reminded me that the tree lives on a (very pretty) balcony overlooking a busy street in the middle of the Quartier Latin, so she’s not sure the rind is fit to eat. Maybe if I scrub it real well?

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  • Congratulations on your Parisian Meyer! There is actually a small production in Menton but I have no clue as for where they actually sell them.

  • christoph

    Salut Clotilde,
    an easy way to make small batches of sorbet is to use a metal bowl on layer of ground ice and stone salt 3:1 and to stir your cooled mixture therein with a spatula. Or you could use this one here (maybe a bit expensive)

  • suzy

    Perfect timing! Voila! Now I know what to make for dessert for my seder. Merci!

  • Alisa

    I say yes! Wash the rind and eat it. Hey, you breath that air, and it isn’t even washed!

  • Sumit

    If you can find a few more Meyers (5-6), I recommend making meyer lemon and grapefruit marmalade. It’s very yummy and highlights the thyme-like aroma of the rind. I can post a recipe from June Taylor if anyone is interested.

  • Sally

    We are very fortunate to have a fairly mature Meyer lemon tree that gives lots of fruit each winter/spring. It’s right next to our orange tree (we live in San Jose, California) so I’ve always wondered if the mild taste might be because of the close proximity of the oranges.

    Anyway, I made a yummy lemon pie (recipe from my sister AmyBee) that is basically thinly sliced meyer lemons soaked in lots of sugar overnight, then mixed with eggs and baked in a butter crust. The recipe recommended 4 lemons (4 c. sugar!) but I used 5 lemons. Yummy!

    P.S. I love your site!

  • Hi Clotilde,

    shhhh, that happened to be exactly what I was going to make one of these days, flourless citrus cake with meyer lemon. If I could find a tree, I’dtry and grow it myself, too, despite my humble brown thumb :(

    And I second Alisa – eat it! the zest and peel, everything. It should still be better than some commercially-grown pesticide-laden ones.

  • Clotilde, do you read cookery books all day that you come up with words like ‘hand-stirred granite'(is it french? I haven’t seen it in your bloxicon.) I know this is only a touch food-related but where on the earth did you learn such good English?
    Fantastic article, btw.

  • Meg

    Clotilde, I think it would be a shame not to use every bit of this obviously organic lemon! Also, for once you can be sure as you grate the zest that it has not been waxed.

    I’ve got about five lemons growing on my little tree but it’s a Limon de Valette. Vive l’agriculture parisienne!

  • California Dreaming

    Other ideas for that Meyer lemon:

    Don”t throw the rind away! It”s the best part! Wash it well!


    Chop some of the whole rind (zest & pith) very fine, and add to your favorite salsa verde recipe (delicious on fish and shellfish).

    Chop some of the whole rind (zest & pith) very fine and use it with the juice to make a lovely vinaigrette. You might need to add a little regular lemon juice or white wine vinegar if the Meyer lemon isn”t acid enough. This dressing is good on a regular salad, but it”s fantastic with vegetable salads: beets, asparagus, fava beans, spinach (wilted or raw), and especially the chicories. All of these are nice with a barely hard-boiled egg.

    Use the zest and a little juice to flavor a beurre blanc, a hollandaise (like sauce maltaise), or an aioli (or a rémoulade or tartare).

    Mix the zest with some butter, shallots, salt, and likely an herb or two and stuff it under the skin of a hen before you roast it. Of course, you will put the juiced and zested remains of the lemon in the cavity.

    Substitute Meyer lemon zest for regular lemon zest in a gremolata

    Slice the whole lemons thin (but not too thin) and deep fry them (dip in buttermilk or milk, then flour). Delicious with a fritto misto


    Meyer lemon pastry cream makes a fantastic filling for éclairs or cream puffs (and, of course, American-style lemon meringue pie). If the pastry cream idea seems too heavy, turn it into crème Chiboust (i.e., pastry cream with an Italian meringue folded into it).

    Meyer lemon pound cake (especially when moistened with a Meyer lemon syrup)

    Meyer lemon is interesting (read: not for every day) with chocolate

    OK. I have to get back to work

  • Heather

    Hello – stumbled upon your blog via The Amateur Gourmet. Wanted to say hello and tell you that my mom used to make a chocolate-zucchini CAKE in the summer when she had the usual “too many zucchini, not enough recipes” dilemma. She hid zucchini everywhere. And it landed in a chocolate cake, with chocolate chips. It wasn’t bad at all!

    good luck with that lemon!

  • Cara

    Another fabulous Meyer lemon tip – there is an amazing balsamic vinegar that I bought : Fig and Meyer Lemon Balsamic Vinegar (made by Lulu). It is delicious on steamed asparagus with a little lemon curls for garnish.

    Et Clotilde … j’adore ce site-web, c’est vraiment super!

  • What a gorgeous little lemon. I am intrigued to taste the difference. I am living in tokyo and we have a wide variety of citrus available including the tasty japanese uzu. but the newest interesting one I have found is tankan which is a kind of lemon-orange-tangerine from Okinawa.

    Lauren in Japan

  • Cara

    Yes, how well I remember the yuzu – amazing to use in vinaigrettes … although SO hard to find now that I am no longer in Tokyo, but back in Canada. Enjoy them since I can’t!

    A great idea for yuzu – as a MOUSSELINE:

    * 1 egg yolk
    * 2 tbsp Japanese liquor (sake
    * 1/4 cup yuzu juice
    * 1/2 cup butter, clarified
    * 1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
    * 2 tbsp frozen yuzu peel, chopped

    Délicieuse et si simple …

    P.S. Clotilde, je suis toujours si impresionnée par vos photos; elles sont si professionnelles!

  • joan

    the joy of sharing homegrown goodies! lemon trees seem to be particularly generous! our 25 year old rosemary bush is our treasure…such a pleasure to be able to cut long branches, bow wrap in red ribbon…and leave on a friend’s doorstep…
    merci to the lemon trees of the world..

  • Paris75016

    salut clotilde! i was wondering if u know where the best italian rest may be or japanese restaurant for that matter. also, where can u find good wholesome pies here? thanks a bunch! u ROCK!

  • tamarindal

    To preserve the perfume of Meyer lemon in something cooked, I suggest making lemon curd. And, definitely use the peel–that’s where a lot of the distinctive aroma comes from. Even if a few pollutants have somehow worked their way in, it’s not going to kill you!

    Congratulations on your Meyer…they are wonderful!

  • Saffron

    I wonder what a meyer lemon would be like candied on top of a chocolate tart… maybe with the juice infused into the crust …. hmmmm.

  • no sorbet maker?! clotilde, dear, you can make sorbet-in-a-sack! It’s quick, it’s refreshing and it’s good exercise!

  • Colleen

    I am a 7th generation Floridian who now lives in Washington DC. My mother sends me huge boxes of Meyer lemons, key limes, wild oranges, and other citrus when her trees are overproducing.

    Since I’m a career girl who dates a New Yorker so I’m usually on the road on weekends, I’ve figured out how to use stuff up really fast. If all else fails, I freeze the juice until later but my freezer was getting out of control. Here are a few of my “Oh Gosh another box from Mom!” Meyer lemon standbys:

    1. Lemonade. Simple, but incredible. I make a simple syrup and mix it with some sparkling water and Meyer Lemon juice. The best lemonade EVER!

    2. Infuse peelings in vodka. It takes at least 6 months for a good infusion, but it is worth the wait. Use as above for lemonade-with-a-kick.

    3. Preserve: After using the peels to infuse vodka, I section the fruit into a canning jar, make a thick simple syrup with water, sugar, some star anise and sliced ginger, pour the syrup over the sectioned lemons (or grapefruit or orange or a combination), and preserve it for a later time. I put a piece of the ginger and star anise in each jar on the side so it looks pretty. Excellent with yogurt, over poundcake, on pancakes, and you can use the infused syrup for an excellent martini or to flavor iced tea. This is a lot faster than making marmalade, PLUS you have used the peel for infused vodka and the fruit for compote so you have done “double duty” with your lemons.

    4. You can also pulse the peels with sugar in a FP to make Meyer Lemon sugar. Yum.

    5. I marinate chicken in Meyer lemon juice, LOTS of garlic, some oregano, and a splash of olive oil. Let it marinate at least 24 hours (I actually freeze the chicken breasts in individual bags with the marinade and defrost them when I am ready to cook them). The best grilled chicken ever. Regular lemons aren’t nearly as good for this.

    6. And, of course, Meyer lemon curd. But I made curd and took it to work every time I got Mom’s lemons for about a year so I have to give it a rest.

    Hope this gives you some ideas.

  • I too have longed for Meyer Lemons outside of
    their growing area. Sometimes they have them at WholeFoods, but they are usually kind of past it, as well as really, really expensive.
    At the end of last summer, I bought a scruffy Meyer Lemon tree at Lowe’s, on sale, and set it on my porch stoop. I was amazed when it blossomed, and tiny green lemons followed!
    When the cold weather came along, I took it to work, and set it on the nice, wide sunny windowsill in my office. Several weeks later, all the baby lemons fell off, one at a time.
    The leaves still looked good, so I fed and watered it and it bloomed again, several times.
    It now has a bright green lemon that is almost two inches in diameter, as well as several smaller ones, and a couple of really sweet smelling blossoms. I fear bringing it back home to put outside, in case the lemons fall off. I am torn, because it might really need some strong sun. Advice on this, anyone? I have high hopes for the biggest one, and am scanning all suggestions, in case it lives to a ripe enough old age to cook.

  • chris_raynier

    Hi Lauren

    can you tell me more about the UZU Lime and if i can grow it here in the S. of England or in Majorca-Spain, and where to get the best starter plants?

    many thanks, HNY, Chris

  • Caroline

    I am delighted to learn from Clotilde that her friend Christoph, the German, found a Meyer Lemon in Europe somewhere. Please let me know where.I live in Mallorca & could easily grow them but lack a supplier. Thank you. They sound intriguing and very much worth my while. I would be so grateful if you could steer me in the right direction. Caroline

  • michele

    I am quite sure that 9 years later Meyers have made a lot more headway in Europe…but if you ever want to take home a suitcase full of citrus next time you are in the U.S., I have a bottomless supply of not only meyers, but also conventional lemons, kaffir limes, key limes, grapefruits, sour oranges… happy to mail a box to you anywhere in the US in thanks for your lovely website!

    • They have not, unfortunately, and I hope I soon have a chance to take you up on your generous offer. Lucky you, and thank you!

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