Our local paper picked up a piece a week or two ago by Amy Culbertson titled “Infusing winter meals with exotic appeal” touting the glories of Meyer lemons and offering two delicious-sounding recipes for using them.

Unlike their true lemony yellow cousins, Meyer lemons are a hybrid lemon-orange cross and their skins betray their heritage. In fact, it was the bright, almost sunburnt yellow-orange color of a big, beautiful bowl of them in the accompanying photo that first drew my eye to the article.

We’re lucky that among our small cluster of fruit trees at our place in Santa Barbara stands a good-sized old Meyer lemon tree that works hard to keep us well supplied with tasty, mild Meyer lemons when we’re there. Sometimes, it works harder than we can keep up with, thus my interest in recipes for what to do with an occasional excess of Meyer lemons.

Blending their juice with lime juice springs to mind, but a girl can only drink so many margaritas.

Fortunately, Ms. Culbertson came to my rescue. Of the two recipes included with her article in our paper, the first–a Meyer Lemon and Onion Relish–weighs in at just 2 grams of carb per 2 tablespoon serving. No real problem there for the low carb dieter. The second–a Meyer Lemon, Gorgonzola, and Arugula Pizza–requires minimal modification to render it low carb friendly.

And it sounds divine.

The way it’s written, the nutritional breakdown provided claims a whopping 125 grams of carb in a serving (half a 10-inch pizza) which seems sort of implausible, when you consider what’s in it, or rather on it: olive oil, a half cup of the Meyer Lemon and Onion Relish, Gorgonzola cheese, some pine nuts, fresh thyme leaves, and arugula leaves. I ran the ingredients through my handy-dandy nutritional calculator and discovered that the aforementioned toppings only contain 11.7 grams of effective carbohydrate in both servings–i.e., ringing up just south of 6 grams per person.

So where’s the massive carb load? In the pizza crust, obviously, but since the toppings only add between 5 and 6 grams, to hit that 125 gram carb total claimed per serving that means there’s got to be 120 grams of carb in the dough for each half of her 10-incher. If so, that’s one thick crust she’s topping.

No matter; it’s simple enough to reduce the carb tab and keep all the flavors by either substituting a large low-carb flour tortilla for the crust (at a cost of around 5 grams a person) or for those who want something a little thicker to chew on, by putting the delicious toppings on a low-carb homemade waffle, for about the same cost.

Either way, as soon as we get back to our Meyer Lemon tree, I intend to make enough relish to keep me in Meyer Lemon, Gorgonzola, and Arugula pizzas for a good while.

Low-carb adapted, of course.


  1. Meyer lemons grow well in many parts of the country. They are cold hardy to about 28F, so must be grown in pots where it gets colder than this. Fortunately, you can buy them on dwarfing rootstock, which makes this easy. The smell of the blooms alone is enough to justify their purchase. The excellent fruit is icing on the cake.

    If you try this and bring them in for the winter, check for stowaways. Giant swallowtail caterpillars love Meyer lemons. We had a couple pupate and emerge into our house this year during the prolonged cold spell in December/January, much to the delight of our children.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Giant swallowtails, huh.? Why would you want to eject those stowaways? Granted, I would totally reject them in the caterpillar stage (not being favorable disposed toward things that undulate to motate) but at the pupal stage and certainly at the butterfly stage, it would be a real treat to have them as guests. Fortunately, our Meyer Lemon tree gets to live outside all year, but now I know I need to keep a weather eye out for the GS caterpillars in its branches when I go out to harvest lemons. And thanks for the tip about their cold hardiness and about grafting them onto dwarfing root stock.

  2. I definitely need to get one of these Meyer’s lemon trees. I noticed your paper also had recipes that include Kaffir Limes. I love Thai food which uses both the leaves and fruit of the Kaffir lime. And Chef Ming had a wonderful recipe for making Kaffir lime curd on his web site which I keep meaning to convert to low carb someday. Right now my tree is very tiny and probably needs me to leave it alone until it grows a bit… but I’m looking forward to reaping a big harvest of it’s leaves. They have a wonderful smell and taste that is somewhat reminiscent of lime.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Likewise. I have big plans for expanding our citrus orchard, which now includes two varieties of oranges and the aforementioned Meyer lemon tree, to include a Keffir lime, a plain ole’ lime, a blood orange, a seedless mandarin, a plain old lemon, and a grapefruit tree. Come to think of it, I might need 2 plain ole limes, since it takes a lot of limes to make a margarita!

  3. The caterpillars were still in the larval stage when the trees came in. They, also, are a source of amusement to my children. They have a peculiar defense mechanism. If you touch them, they inflate a couple of narrow appendages that look very much like a snake tongue. They also exude a foul smelling liquid if you annoy them enough. The caterpillar itself is disguised as a bird dropping. With such a multi-pronged defense, it is no wonder they are so common.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: So THAT’s what those caterpillars are. I’ve only ever seen one once, on a ficus tree belonging to some friends who were moving. Since the tree had been on the patio for a few weeks, we all though it was a bird dropping, at first, until it moved. We then dubbed it a Bird Poop Caterpillar. We figured that wasn’t it’s real name, but decided it should be, since it was quite descriptive. Now I’ll know what to look for. Thanks.

  4. The only trouble I ever had with Meyer Lemon trees (dwarf) was the darned spider mites that killed them during our horrible Midwest winters.
    Swallowtail catepillars would be (and are) a plus for me, and I’d grow as many Meyer Lemon trees as I could to accomodate them!
    Personally, I’m not fond of the taste. My kids love them, but I find them too sweet.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Were I to find swallowtail caterpillars on my Meyer Lemon tree, I would be happy to send them your way. Actually, I’d probably have to have my darling husband pluck them off and send them your way, since there is not a single fiber in my being that would permit me to pick up a caterpillar volitionally. I happily welcome them once they become swallowtails, though. As with adolescence in kids and puppies, I guess caterpillarhood is just a phase they have to pass through.

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