December 31, 2009

Lemons Under the Big Sky Deep in Winter

Each year in December my daughter brings me a bag of Meyer lemons picked fresh from the tree shading her California back porch. What a treat! I like to preserve the lemons for various reasons. In the middle of winter in Montana it is one way to get lots of vitamin C. The tart flavor burst when chopped and spread on chicken, in salads, and straight out of the jar is unsurpassed and addictive. I use Patricia Wells' recipe for preserving the lemons because it is simple without competing spice flavors such as those used in North African recipes.
  • Wash organic lemons and dry
  • Cut each in 8 sections, bottom to top, leaving wedges attached at top
  • Put in large bowl, sprinkle coarse sea salt to coat lemons
  • Add REAL straight-from-a-lemon juice and/or juice not from concentrate
  • Put the lemons into a jar, close with a non-metal lid or add wax paper between metal canning lid and jar
Let sit for 7 days, turning jar frequently each day. On day 8 add olive oil to the top of the jar and refrigerate.

I prefer preserving Meyer lemons for their delicate flavors of lemon combined with tangerine. Because the skin of the Meyer lemon is smooth and quite flavorful without being bitter the entire lemon wedge can be chopped when ready to be eaten. Meyer lemons are in season December through February. Tiny jars filled with preserved Meyer lemon wedges make great gifts!

If you don't know someone with a Meyer lemon tree look for these wonderful fruits alongside regular lemons in most grocery stores or winter farmers' markets. You can tell the difference when you feel the smooth skin. Hold the lemon up to your nose. Meyers have distinctive hint of tangerine mixed with lemon. Preserve lemons and enjoy tart citrus when the skies are gray and the snow is flying.


  1. What a cheery way to start the new year! I do love this post and was thankful to read it. I am sick with strep throat and have knitted until my eyes are tired, read through lots of books and watched the kids and husband come in and out from skiing and ice-fishing!
    I needed something nice to read and look at.. along came your lemons!
    Happy new year to you and so good to know you!

  2. I love Meyer lemons! When I was young (about 9) I used to cut a lemon in half and sprinkle salt on top and eat them. Glad to have the recipe.

  3. I'm going to try this! I've seen this sort of thing before but wasn't sure how it was done.

    I'm not sure where i'll get meyer lemons, but i'm going to certainly try! What other things do you use these on when cooking?

  4. Secretly, I use them on almost anything I cook! Chopped finely, I add them to salads, baked and sauteed fish, chicken, and veg stir-fry. My family laughs when they taste lemon in soups and some stews accusing me of "using lemon in everything." O, well, a confession...I love just eating them out of the jar!

  5. You have inspired me to seek out some local Meyer lemons here in CA! The recipe sounds/looks lemon-licious!