In the middle of winter and into the early spring, something yellow and sparkly slowly arrives onto the produce shelves in West Virginia and beyond. They may look somewhat like regular lemons, but if you look closely, they are a bit smaller and rounder than regular lemons and have a lovely deep yellow to orange smooth skin.
When you slice them, they are very distinct. They have a dark yellow pulp, which is edible, and a sweeter, less acidic flavor.
Meyer lemons have arrived!
The season for Meyer lemons is shorter than for regular lemons. While regular lemons are readily available all year long, Meyer lemons are more seasonal. Your best time to find them is from December through May. They have greater tolerance to cold weather than regular lemons.
I saw them in their neat little bag of four in Kroger a couple of weeks ago, brought in from a non-GMO company in California. The ones I found were not organic. Meyer lemons are also grown in Florida and Texas.
I envisioned slicing them and eating them like oranges, making some lemonade, or trying the Ketogenic lemon meringue pie recipe that had been calling my name for the last several weeks.
While they are moderately acidic, Meyer lemons don’t have the same tang as regular lemons. They are much sweeter. Their rinds also have a more complex scent than regular lemons – a spicy, citrus fragrance that tastes and smells more like an herb or a spice.
Both Meyer lemons and regular lemons can be used in the same ways. However, since Meyer lemons will add more sweetness to a recipe, you may be fine reducing the amount of sugar in your recipe by half.
The lemon rind of a Meyer lemon is also sweeter.
Meyer lemons were first introduced to the United States from Beijing, China, in the early 20th century by Frank Meyer, a Untied States Department of Agriculture employee. They are a natural cross between a standard lemon (Eureka or Lisbon variety) and a mandarin orange.
In a pH test done by Cook’s Illustrated magazine, it was found that standard lemon juice is 1.3 times more acidic than Meyer lemon juice. The regular lemons were shown to produce a better vinaigrette. The acidic punch and boldness stood up to the rich olive oil better than the Meyer lemon juice.
This study found that “for applications that don’t depend on the bracing acidity of a standard lemon, a Meyer lemon can be a fine substitute. But where a recipe demands, bold, bright flavor for balance, reach for a regular lemon”
When choosing a lemon, hold the fruit and determine if it is heavy. The heavier the fruit and the thinner the skin, the more juice it has. A ripe lemon should be firm, with a deep color. The deeper the color, the less acidic the lemon.
Store lemons at room temperature, away from sunlight. They keep without refrigeration for about two weeks. If kept in the refrigerator crisper, it is best to use a plastic bag, where they can remain up to six weeks.
Lemons can be juiced and stored for later use. The juice can also be frozen in ice cube trays, transferred to a freezer container and kept for up to 3 months.
To produce more juice for a recipe, it is always better for the lemon to be warm (or at least room temperature). Rolling the lemon with the palm of your hand on a flat surface will also insure the extraction of more juice.
Before cutting a lemon, it is important to wash the skin so that dirt or bacteria on the skin is not transferred to the fruit’s interior. Use caution if you have a citrus allergy.
Most conventionally harvested fruits have pesticide residue concentrated on their skin. Since lemons are among the foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found, organic lemons are recommended.
Run to the grocery store and grab your Meyer lemons before the season ends! If you miss them this year, you have something to look forward to in 2020!
I have been exploring the benefit of a plant-based Ketogenic diet since January 2019. The concept of the Ketogenic diet is to eat foods that will help your body burn Ketones instead of sugar for energy. The pie and lemonade recipe included with this article are considered to be plant-based Ketogenic; low glycemic, no animal products, high fat and low carb.
Elaina Love’s Pure Joy Plant-Based Ketogenic program provides a wealth of information and some fabulous recipes. If you want to give this way of eating a try without eating animals, sign up for one of her seasonal 30 day programs. The next one begins July 1-30. You can sign up at my link and receive a 15 percent discount by typing SALLY into the coupon code line. Use this entire link to receive the discount: https://online.purejoyplanet.com/?affcode=59677_c8muOexf
You can register until July 1st.
Ketogenic Lemon Meringue Pie (Chef Elaina Love’s Plant-based Keto Recipe)
This pie is not your typical “gel texture” lemon meringue pie. It is more like a custard or cheesecake consistency. The meringue is to die for! The meringue recipe makes enough for 2 pies or use ½ for a pie, freeze the rest and eat as ice cream or serve on top of coffee or cookies. Using the Meyer lemons, allowed me to use less coconut sugar. Get started at least 12 hours before you want to serve this pie, as it needs that amount of time to set up.
Yield: 16 small or 8 regular slices
¼ cup agar-agar paste.(recipe below)
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup water
2 tablespoons water (yes both)
2 tablespoons monk fruit powder or honey
½ teaspoon mineral salt
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon non-GMO soy lecithin
½ cup coconut oil – melted
2 more tablespoons coconut oil - melted
To make Agar-agar Paste:
2 cup boiling hot water
2 tablespoons agar-agar powder
Instructions for Agar-agar paste:
Bring the water to a boil then add the agar-agar powder.
Stir constantly for 1 minute or more until it starts to thicken and bubble, then remove from heat. Let cool.
Instructions for Meringue topping:
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Pour into a bowl or sealable container and refrigerate until it thickens to very hard. (Overnight)
Pipe or spoon onto the lemon pie when it is all set.
Ingredients for Lemon Pie:
1 ½ cups macadamia nuts
¾ cups dried shredded coconut (powdered in a food processor)
1/8 teaspoon mineral salt
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup agar-agar paste (see meringue recipe)
½ cup hot water
8 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup coconut milk from can
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder (for deep yellow color)
¼ teaspoon mineral salt
2 teaspoon non gmo soy lecithin
1 cup coconut sugar or ¾ cup Monk fruit powder
1/16 teaspoon Stevia to boost sweetness if needed (optional)
10 drops lemon extract or essential oil
¾ cup virgin coconut-oil melted
Instructions for Crust:
Process all ingredients and press into 1 9 inch pie pan. Optional: purchase a frozen gluten free crust.
Instructions for Filling:
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Adjust sweetness and sourness as needed.
Pour into pie crust and let set up overnight for best results.
Top with Meringue topping.
Cut the pie into 16 small or 8 large servings.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Coconut water Lemonade
This is a quick way to make a refreshing lemonade. It is not very sweet. No added sugar is added. That is up to you to sweeten for your taste. Using the Meyer lemons and the coconut water adds natural sweetness. Since there is sodium in coconut water, there is a slight salty flavor.
Yield: 1 16 ounce glass
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup coconut water
Fill glass to 1 inch from top with filtered water.
Add sliced lemons.
Adjust the amount of lemon juice and coconut water to your liking.