Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Quick Quiz: Who’s Frank Meyer?

Quick answer: Hardly anyone cares, and even he didn’t know he would be famous in the world of gastronomy.

Meyer Lemon Tree

In the early 20thCentury, the USDA employed “plant explorers” whose mission was to travel the world in search of exotics which would then be introduced to the United States.  Of course, this is the opposite of what we do now in assiduously avoiding the introduction of potentially dangerous new species (or new diseases along for the ride) here.

Frank Meyer was one of these men, assigned to China. One of the items he brought back  was an unusual lemon tree, easy to grow and beautiful, but whose fruit was too thin skinned to be commercially viable, so it was considered an “ornamental”. It was not well known outside the world of botanists, horticulturalists and landscape designers for over half a century, although it did bear his name.

Enter Martha Stewart.

Organic Meyer Lemons

Always on the lookout for something unique, she started using Meyer lemons in her recipes, and the species became wildly popular.  A cross between a mandarin orange and ‘regular’ lemon, Meyer lemons have a sweeter and less acidic flavor, and can even be used thinly sliced with the rind on as one might  an orange. They can be used in lieu of either of these, or of limes, in many recipes.

Meyer Lemon Cupcake

The season mirrors that of other citrus, the winter months. Fresh Meyer lemons are rarely seen commercially other than in farmers markets in the warm climes where they are grown or specialty stores like Whole Foods. Like other citrus, they are, however, available in additional months to the trade, which is why dishes made with them can appear on menus out of season.

It is also possible to purchase Meyer Lemon Concentrate, a frozen product which is certainly finding its way into (and probably the dominant source of Meyer lemon) in restaurants, especially when the fresh product is not available. MyMEGusta has not done a side-by-side tasting of dishes prepared from fresh and from concentrate, and welcomes comments from readers who have. Perhaps this will be a project for next winter!

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3 thoughts on “Quick Quiz: Who’s Frank Meyer?

  1. Elaine Corn on said:

    Didn’t Martha learn about the Meyer lemon from Alice W? Or the other way ’round? Mine is doing beautifully in my front yard. But next, for balance, I’m planting a Lisbon lemon — a real lemon.

  2. calicobob on said:

    A friend of mine started mixing in some meyer lemon in her orange marmalade. It’s wonderful!

  3. if you have the room you can freeze whole lneoms. You can also freeze just the juice, or just the shredded peel. I’m not sure about how long you can keep them in say, a cool cellar, but I’m guessing not long. Check with your local gardening extension you can find them through a local greenhouse or nursery.

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