Use Meyer lemons to brighten food, wine this winter
Outside the door to my office where I do all my writing is a dwarf Genoa lemon tree, planted last spring. When I got the tree earlier this year at Sebastopol’s Harmony Farms, it was about 3 feet tall. It’s now nearly 4½ feet high. It has three lemons, each about the size of a hen’s egg. They are hard and dark green with a slight blush of yellow. By spring, they should ripen fully.
Our strange weather this fall has resulted in several blossoms, even though they typically appear when other fruit trees blossom in the spring. These burst forth in early November, when temperatures were much higher than normal. Will they become lemons? I have no idea, but I’m hoping.
Lemons may be the most versatile fruit we have. They can brighten almost everything we eat, from raw oysters, chilled Dungeness crab and grilled steak to both sweet and tart beverages and all manner of desserts. Lemons also can form a compelling connection when pairing food and wine; a spritz will shift how the wine and food interact. If you want to enjoy, say, beef with white wine, a squeeze of lemon will get you there most of the time.
Lemons and other citrus tend to peak around this time of year, though certain varieties, especially our local Meyer lemons, are often available year-round. In recent years, Meyer lemons have been the darling of citrus lovers. They often are described as sweet though they contain little sugar. They simply have less acid that other varieties, such as the ubiquitous Eureka and similar varieties.
For many years, Fresno-based DeSantis Farm attended local farmers markets with a diverse citrus crop that included a pink-flesh lemon that is as beautiful as it is delicious. The farm no longer participates in any Sonoma County farmers markets, but you can find them at Marin County farmers markets.
Davero Farms and Winery (766 Westside Road, Healdsburg) has just released its Meyer lemon olive oil and is selling 5-pound baskets of Meyer lemons ($25), too.
The farm also has Meyer lemon curd and marmalade for sale this winter. To make a reservation for the tasting room, call 707-431-8000, ext. 1. Everything is available at davero.com.
Several farmers market vendors currently have beautiful Meyer lemons for sale and a few have Eurekas, too.
Using all water will result in a bright, pristine risotto. On the other hand, using chicken stock will add a deeper layer. Or try a combination of the two by diluting about two cups of stock with water.
If using a commercial stock, do not use more than 2 cups and use water for the rest of the liquid.
Meyer Lemon Risotto
Serves 3 to 4
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
— Kosher salt
1½ cups Vialone Nano rice
¾ cup dry white wine
8 cups chicken stock or water, hot (see note below)
— Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
— Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
4 ounces soft cheese of choice (Brie, Camembert, goat Camembert or other similar cheese)
2 ounces (½ cup) grated dry Jack, Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar cheese
1 Meyer lemon, peeled and seeded, sections removed from their membranes
— Black pepper in a mill