I bought a Meyer Lemon Tree about five years ago. I had dreams of it living happily in a pot, staying small and compact and easy to manage. The first several years the tree produced a million blooms which all wanted to grow into baby lemons.
It was tempting to leave each bloom to grow, but it was obvious that the tree could not support the weight of but a few lemons. Each purple and white bloom produced a baby lemon, less than the size of a centimeter, which smelled heavenly. Not yet the thick, sweet scent of fully blooming citrus, these baby lemons smelled of something else, a softer, sweeter version of a citrus perfume, better than anything in a bottle.
The tree gave us a few lemons, and we protected it from the harshest days of our North Florida Winter each year. After a few years though, it obviously wanted more room to grow. A bigger pot would be difficult to manage with the cold weather days, so we found a spot where a Dogwood tree had died, and we planted the Meyer Lemon in the ground. Some fertilizer helped him acclimate to the new spot, and it started to take off.
It is no longer a tiny tree, and for the first time this year, it produced lemons. Not five or six, which I previously shared with our relatives as a treasured home grown gift, but I mean lemons! I have not counted, but our small tree probably has close to fifty lemons.
I was right to be concerned about the weight of the fruit, as my tree branches are now bending precariously under the weight of the giant full lemons. I never knew that lemons could even get this big! They look closer to the size of an orange, but elliptical rather than round.
The lower hanging fruit – literally touching the ground – has been the target of several poorly aimed soccer balls this Fall, and several lemons were harvested early due to these events. An early cold snap this year with almost record lows, followed by record highs, seems to have the fruit ripening early. In past years, the few lemons we had were ripe closer to Christmas, and this year we have many ripe at Thanksgiving!
So, with kids on Thanksgiving holiday, and lemons rolling around the kitchen, my daughter and I made lemonade out of these lemons. We pulled out the small juicer, not well suited to this task of juicing giant lemons, and my nine-year-old juiced six lemons almost entirely by herself. Six lemons produced about 1 1/2 cups of juice, more than we needed for our first batch of lemonade.
We first mixed our sugar with one cup hot water; we reduced the amount of sugar to 3/4 cup after reading that Meyer Lemons are normally much sweeter than regular ones. We then added one cup of lemon juice to the sugar and water solution, and mixed that well. We then added two cups of cold water and gave it all a good shake. We poured it over ice, and then the taste test began.
This was the best lemonade ever! Smooth and sweet and tangy. We are going to try the recipe with honey next time, although it is hard to imagine that it can get any better! The Meyer Lemons make a great lemonade!
1 cup Meyer Lemon Juice
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups water (maybe a bit more)
Dissolve the sugar in one cup of hot water. Add juice to the sugar solution and mix well. Then add 2 cups of cold water, maybe a bit more. Shake well and serve over ice. Sip slowly and enjoy!
To borrow from Wikipedia, below is the quote inspiring the blog post title!
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. Lemons suggest bitterness, while lemonade is a sweet drink.