Well we reluctantly came from Hawaii and while we miss our exotic tropical fruit searches, at least we came home to some ripe citrus fruit in our garden. Since it has been a while since we’ve spent a week in the garden, do you mind joining me out there for a while to look at the citrus? Just before we left the Meyer Lemons turned yellow and now we are meyer lemon heaven. Have you had a meyer lemon before? They are a cross between a true lemon and a mandarine orange which makes their peel smoother and their taste sweeter. Once you try one, it’s hard to turn back. We use them for everything, in baking, for lemonade, and even in our sandwiches below…
As for the tree themselves, they are a compact dwarf tree, so they are easy to fit into a small yard and if it gets too cold where you live (while they are hardy they are still frost tender) you can bring them indoors during winter as a house plant. If you live in a moderate climate, like we do, where freezes are occassional, they are fine left outside. Just throw a sheet or blanket over them when the temperature dips past freezing. Plant them in a sunny location and put them close to a walking path or patio. The scent of their blooms is intoxicating. As with most citrus, they are heavy feeders so make sure you invest in some organic citrus fertilizer.
Meyer lemon trees are grafted onto grapefruit tree rootstock, so make sure to check that you aren’t getting grapefruit limbs growing below the graft. The winter of 2002/2003 was a cold one and our tree was damaged right down to the graft. Without realizing it we let the grapefruit branches grow with wild abandoned and ended up with huge tasteless grapefruits. You will know that they are grapefruit and not lemon branches by the fact that they will have wicked spikes on them. Lemon branches do not have spikes on them.
For you who are already meyer lemon afficianados, have you ever tried one in your sandwich? (This one was made for you Katrina) Not only will it redefine sandwich making in your world, but it will redefine what you can do with meyer lemons in your cooking. This Salami, Arugula and Meyer Lemon Sandwich is to die for.
Slice your meyer lemon as thin as your knife skills will allow, peel and all. Layer on toasted sandwich bread (or crusty sliced french bread) along with mayonnaise (or garlic aoili if you are really fancy), garden fresh arugula, and your favorite salami. I promise you that the lemon slices won’t be bitter at all. It will add a fresh, juicy element to each bite. You are going to love it.