Sunday, March 9, 2008

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Preserved Meyer Lemons, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

Meyer Lemons are an odd citrus. They look like a lemon and taste like an orange...a kinda lemony orange. According to Wikipedia they originated in China, where they are grown as ornamental plants, and were introduced into the US in 1908 by Frank Meyer, who worked for the US Department of Agriculture. They are thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange.

So, ok, they have a cool horticultural background and all, but what the heck do you do with them? Especially 2 bags of them?? (I'm a sucker for "2/$5" kinda sales, by the way, and often find myself overstocked like this.) I turned to the internets for help and found a good recipe for Preserved Meyer Lemons from (Gourmet December 1999). My thought here was "If I can't think of what to do with them now, I'll preserve them until I can." That and Tagert's been making marmalade lately, so I had to get in on the fun of not canning things in Ball jars, too.

I made a batch as written and they turned out great. In this preparation they're almost like olives because they're in a lemony brine and the rind of the lemon really softens. Be careful, though! Don't pop an entire chunk in your mouth like Tagert did - they're reeeeeally salty and strong.

I read the reviews and saw some chatter about adding other ingredients to the brine. That sounded fun so I made another batch, but this time added the following to each jar:
  • 2 crushed green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp multicolor peppercorns (black alone will work just fine)
  • 1 dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
I removed the thyme after the 5 day brining period. I thought it might not hold up for the year (with refrigeration) indicated in the article as the Use By date. I dunno...I'm certainly no expert on this and would hate to be handing out botulinum-laced hostess gifts.

I've added chunks to dishes that needed to have their acidity and flavor cranked up a bit. Oddly enough I have yet to try the recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Meyer Lemons and Green Olives from the original article.

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)

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