A Meyer lemon is something that you might take for granted living in Southern California, the way you can overlook the ocean's permanent composition of place and the (usually) stunning weather. You should not. Leticia Garcia, of Garcia Organic Farm in Fallbrook, says she'll be bringing crates of the lemons to the three Santa Monica farmers markets her family's farm goes to only for the next three weeks.
The Garcia family farms 30 acres of citrus trees: in addition to grapefruit, mandarine, tangerine, Bearss lime and Key lime trees, they have about 50 Meyer lemon trees. The 15 year-old organic farm also grows guavas, figs, avocados, flowers and mulberries. (If you want mulberries, next week is the last week Garcia will bring them: come early, as they go fast.) But if you pass by the market stalls, it's the avalanche of plump yellow Meyers that will probably get your attention.
A Meyer is not a true lemon, but a cross between a lemon and a sweet orange, and it was imported to the U.S. from China by F. N. Meyer in 1908. Rounder, smoother and a deep, dark yellow than other lemons, Meyers are also (unsurprisingly) sweeter and less acidic than their counterparts. As such, they make terrific drinks and are very enjoyable to cook with. You can slice them very thinly and layer them into sandwiches, squeeze the juice and grate the zest into drinks, and preserve them--a terrific way to have Meyers on hand until the next season. (To do this, put quarters of whole lemons into a wide-mouth jar, cover with lemon juice and salt, and allow to cure in the refrigerator for about a month.) Need more inspiration? Here are a few suggestions.
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Garcia Organic Farm: 40430 Deluz Murrieta Road, Fallbrook; (760) 728-5925. They are at all three Santa Monica farmers markets, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.