When I think of Meyer lemons, I immediately start craving lemon bars, lemon scones and all of the other wonderful desserts you can make with those sweet, yellow ovals of goodness. Potted Meyer lemon trees make a great addition to sunny kitchens and patios, and they smell as good as the fruit tastes.
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Have you ever wondered who discovered the Meyer lemon? And what makes it so different than a regular lemon? Chris Shott at Taste gives a little history lesson in his article, A Man, a Plan, a Lemon, China.
"Even if you know about his most famous discovery, chances are you don’t know anything about Frank N. Meyer." —Chris Shott
Most Americans don’t recognize the name Frank N. Meyer, but many are familiar with the fruit that bears his name. The Meyer lemon is a specialty-citrus sensation. Just ask Martha Stewart, who has more than 100 Meyer lemon–specific recipes and related content on her website. Or the U.S. Postal Service, which in January officially enshrined the fruit’s special place in American culture with the unveiling of the two-cent Meyer lemon stamp.
Long thought to be a simple lemon-orange hybrid, the Meyer lemon is now believed to be a cross between three of the original citrus species—citron, mandarin, and pummelo—based on a 2016 genetics study led by French scientist Franck Curk.
The unique orange-tinted lemon has a higher sugar-to-acid ratio than the average waxy yellow supermarket variety, making it especially well suited for cakes, pies, and pastries galore. “It has more sugar, it has more juice, and it has that distinctive flowery character that dessert chefs really love,” says grower Lance Walheim, whose company, California Citrus Specialties, was among the first large-scale suppliers of the Meyer lemon, beginning in the mid-1980s.
READ MORE: A Man, a Plan, a Lemon, China