It's January, which in the Bay Area (and all of California, for that matter) means it's citrus season. While much of the rest of the country is frozen over -- today in Boston the forecast was 34 degrees and snowing -- we're lucky enough to live someplace where winter means fresh oranges, limes, grapefruits and lemons. And queen among the local citrus trees -- at least in my book -- is the Meyer lemon.
Meyer lemons are an amazing fruit. Originally created in China as a lemon and mandarin orange hybrid, it has an appealing sweetness lacking in other lemons. And, with a fragrant and thin rind, barely any pith, and ample juice, it's really the ideal cooking lemon.
I planted my Meyer lemon tree around five years ago, and although it's given me a steady stream of fruit since we first set it into the ground outside our front porch, this is the first year that our tree was crowded with lemons. So what do you do with an overabundance of sweet and tart Meyers? In my case, I had great plans to make marmalade. I pondered how to make it, discussed recipes with neighbors, and deliberated over whether or not I should incorporate other citruses into the jam. But after a couple of weeks with sick kids and a sicker husband, plus a pile of work to wade through, those lemons still sat on the tree: bright yellow orbs taunting me each time I walked up my front stairs.
Thankfully I have talented friends with a can-do attitude (well, one friend in particular). When Kim and Keith Laidlaw came to my house last weekend, I mentioned my marmalade aspirations as we walked past the tree, hoping that one day soon I'd be able to make it. And then something miraculous happened. After walking the dogs in the rain a half hour later, I dried off their mud spattered fur and entered the kitchen to warm up with some hot tea. But instead of finding Kim and Keith relaxing in my family room, I was met instead with the glorious image of Kim sitting at my counter, patiently slicing lemons from the enormous pile she had picked while I was out. A true friend indeed.