With its glossy dark green leaves, fragrant pink-tinged blossoms, and bright orange-yellow lemons, the Meyer lemon deserves a place in your life!
Long an obscure specialty of fruit collectors and farmers’ markets in the citrus belt, the Meyer lemon has recently gone mainstream thanks to Martha Stewart and her Meyer lemon recipes. Today, Meyer lemons are available in most supermarkets throughout the country.
The Meyer lemon was discovered in Peking (Beijing) by USDA plant explorer, Frank Meyer, and first brought to the United States in 1908. It is thought to be a hybrid between the lemon, Citrus limon and the sweet orange, C. sinensis. Meyer lemon has since been replaced with ‘Improved Meyer Lemon’, which is resistant to a deadly citrus virus that infected the original.
Fruits of the Meyer lemon are larger, juicier, sweeter and less acidic than those of the true (supermarket) lemons
Meyer lemon trees are small and wide spreading (growing to 6-10 feet tall and getting nearly as wide), more cold hardy and more tolerant of hot humid climates. They tolerate pruning well and can stay smaller. Meyer lemon trees do best in the ground in zones 8B and warmer. Elsewhere, they make great container plants that should be set outside during the summer. Just be sure to move them inside when the temperature threatens to drop below around 25°F.
On its own rootstock, Meyer lemon trees bloom and set fruits all year long, often bearing blossoms and fruit at the same time. Grafted to a rootstock that forces dormancy during the winter (such as trifoliate orange), it will flower mainly in the spring and ripen fruit by early autumn.
Like most citrus varieties, Meyer lemon can tolerate partial shade, but does best in full sun. They like a slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Citrus trees should get around 40 inches of rain or irrigation per year, with most in the spring. Feed with a fertilizer labeled for citrus in spring and again in midsummer.
Use Meyer lemon juice anywhere lemon juice is an ingredient. We love having a tree just outside the kitchen door. The flavor is similar to traditional lemons, but not quite as sour. You can make a great pie from Meyer lemon juice. We like it better than Key lime pie!
Ruthie Belle’s Citrus Pie
2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk (separated)
1 cup Fresh Squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice (separated)
Graham Cracker Pie Crust
Preheat oven to 325°. Beat eggs in a mixing bowl. Add one can of sweetened condensed milk and ½ cup of juice. Blend together. Add second can of sweetened condensed milk and other ½ cup of juice. Blend again.
Pour mixture into graham cracker pie crust. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Refrigerate prior to serving.