When deep winter arrives in New Orleans, you can always find sunshine and sparkle in the Meyer Lemon that starts hitting the shelves of the produce section and the booths of Farmers Market until early spring.
Originally from China, the thin-skinned Meyer Lemon was known mostly for its looks and was primarily a decorative houseplant. The Meyer Lemon might still be decorating homes today if Frank N. Meyer an agricultural explorer who made several trips to Asia with the mission of collecting new plant species in the early 1900’s, hadn’t brought home the crown jewel of citrus. Among more than 2,500 plants that he introduced to the U.S., the Meyer Lemon was named in his honor. Meyer didn’t live to see the wild success of his namesake because he died on an expedition near Shanghai in 1918, but he knew a good thing when he saw it.
In the last twenty years growing a Meyer Lemon tree has become popular with home gardeners here in the south and for good reason. Properly caring for a grafted Meyer lemon tree can bear fruit in as little as two years. Seed grown trees can bear fruit in four to seven years. Attractive, evergreen foliage and sporadic, fragrant flowering are among the reasons people like growing Meyer lemons. The lemon yellow fruit that tastes and smells divine are an added bonus to growing your own tree.
This year we had a particularly good growing season and the Meyer Lemon harvest is plentiful. One of the many ways you can utilize a Meyer Lemon is too make a batch of Lemon Curd. You can serve it with whipped dream or make a Lemon Tart or Lemon Bars. It’s a treat! The following is a simple recipe and makes about two cups of curd.
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (yolks and whites)
1-cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
Zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter.
- Cook in the microwave on full power for one-minute intervals, stirring after each minute. This process will take about 3-5 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. You will know the lemon curd is done cooking when it coats the back of a metal spoon.
- Remove from the microwave, push through a fine, mesh sieve and pour into sterile jar or container.
Once the curd has cooled to room temperature, cover it with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 2 weeks. The curd will thicken as it cools.
NOTE: You can also use the same ingredients/recipe and cook it in a saucepan on the stovetop, if you do not want to microwave it. Heat and stir for around 14-16 minutes on medium heat until it thickens.