All lemons are not equal — they’re not all tart and acidic. The bright yellow oval we find in supermarkets is the standard lemon, cultivated in tropical and temperate climates around the world.
Most of the lemons we see are from California, juicy and acidic, available year-round.
The Meyer lemon is somewhat different: rounder in shape, sweeter than its standard cousin, less acidic, juicy and oh, so fragrant.
Believed to be a cross between a lemon and an orange, the Meyer lemon was imported to the United States from China by F.N. Meyer in 1908. But it was in the 1980s that this lemon became a star as pastry chefs used this culinary delight in lemon tarts, curds and other delightful concoctions where its sweeter flavor is brilliant.
Meyer lemon season is here, and it’s grown right in the islands. These might not always be bright yellow: Farmers say as the lemons turn yellow, fruit flies attack. So they tend to pick them on the green side, but they’re still juicy and flavorful.
Search for Meyer lemons at farmers markets and supermarkets. Always choose lemons that are heavy for their size, and store them in the refrigerator.
Squeeze over fish, deep-fried foods and salad greens. Or use a slice in iced tea — sometimes a Meyer lemon is sweet enough to eat on its own. And it makes a terrific salad dressing:
HONEY LEMON VINAIGRETTE
Juice of a Meyer lemon
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
Food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown.