Meyer Lemon Madness

Special Delivery from CA: Meyer lemons

One of the things I miss most about living in California is the abundance of winter citrus. Walking the streets of my mom’s suburban residential neighborhood in January and February is like strolling through a grove of lemons, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit, which seem to grow in nearly every front yard.  The brightly colored fruits and deep green of the leaves, as well as the gentle way they perfume the air, says home to me.

When I was a kid, we had a Meyer lemon tree growing in our front yard. In those days we didn’t think of these orangey-skinned, aromatic hybrids as anything special, and used them in everything from lemon bars to seafood to hot tea. It was only long after I moved away, and mom replaced the lemon tree with flowers, that I realized how lucky we were to have a consistent supply of these little gems, which up here in Seattle tend to show up very briefly, in small and costly quantities, around February.

Luckily for me, I have some great friends and colleagues in Lemon Country, and one of them, Tina, surprised me with a huge box of Meyers sent express mail from her backyard tree. If the number of lemons I got is any indication, Tina had a bumper crop this year!

After much deliberation about what to do with this “pot o’ gold,” I decided to try my hand at marmalade, while Carl used a few to make a killer lemon meringue pie. I was also excited to make a batch of Meyer lemon bitters, the recipe for which I found in Brad Thomas Parsons’ awesome (James Beard Award-nominated!) book, Bitters.

First up was the marmalade. The recipe in my Gourmet Cookbook called for using the whole lemon, which appealed to me as I am not a big fan of removing pith and sectioning out citrus. This lemony, sweet and bitter jam really couldn’t have been easier, from stovetop to jar.

After a few batches of marmalade I went out and gathered up all the ingredients for the bitters – you know, things like cardamom pods, gentian root, dried hops, and lemongrass. Mix it all together, shake the jar ever day for a few weeks, and pretty soon we’ll have some pretty awesome cocktail fixings.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook


1 1/2 pounds Meyer lemons

4 cups water

4 cups sugar


1. Slice lemons crosswise into thin slices, then quarter slices. Remove seeds and tie into a piece of cheesecloth.

2. Combine lemon slices and bag of seeds with the water in a pot and let stand, covered, at room temperature overnight.

3. Chill two small plates for testing marmalade, and sterilize jars, lids, and screw bands.

4. Bring lemon mixture to a boil over moderate heat, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until reduced to about 4 cups.

5. Stir in sugar and boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until marmalade tests done: drop a spoonful of marmalade onto a chilled plate and refrigerate for one minute, then tilt plate; marmalade should stay mounded and not run.

6. Discard cheesecloth seed bag and ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving head space at top, and lightly tap jars onto counter to release air bubbles.

7. Seal jars and process for 10 minutes.


One Response to “Meyer Lemon Madness”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Jealous! I was in San Diego for 4 days in February and the citrus fruits in the neighborhood weren’t quite ripe. I LOVE Meyer lemons!

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