“When you go to your mom’s, get some lemons”, my husband says. It took me many years to realize how fortunate I was to grow up with Meyer lemon trees growing in the backyard. My 93 year-old mom still lives in her original house and one of these trees puts out baskets of lemons each winter.
In 1951, my mom worked as a diet aide at St Luke’s Hospital in Pasadena (no longer in service). One of the dietitians in her department, Charlotte Iwata, returned from a trip to Turlock and gave my parents two Meyer lemon trees, two Magnolia trees and several bushes. These lemon trees were planted in our backyard and still produce lemons to this day.
Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. Frank Meyer, a United States Department of Agriculture “explorer” brought the tree to America in the early 1900’s. These trees were planted in areas of the US that were considered citrus growing regions, so of course, California. My mom is not sure, but perhaps Ms. Iwata’s family owned a nursey outside of Turlock.
Meyer lemons are very juicy, less acidic and have a thin skin. The skins were so pliable, that I recall my dad putting lemons in the garbage disposal to “freshen” the drain with no worry of clogging. These Berg lemons or “gold”, as they are called by my cousins Carol and Fred, have been woven into my life with abandon. I used them to lighten my hair in the 70’s, consumed unknown slices of Grandma Lane’s Lemon Meringue pie and now make Lemon Bars (recipe below) for special occasions. We use these precious lemons that I bring home by the bagful for soups, caper sauce, hot tea with lemon and honey and salad dressing.
Meyer Lemon Bars
Makes 18 small bites that are very satisfying.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon peel
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, combine all crust ingredients and then pat evenly into an ungreased 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
3. Bake for 20 minutes
4. In another medium bowl, beat eggs and add sugar, flour, juice, peel and baking powder. Pour over crust.
5. Bake 25 minutes.
6. Cool and sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.
7. Cut into 9 squares and then cut squares into triangles.