There are few edibles that come close to the utility and value of a Lemon – Cirus x limon. Everyone should have a lemon tree at home – be it in the ground or a tiny dwarf one in a pot. I have collected quite a few different varieties or cultivars over time and am constantly impressed with how much variation there is. This is evident in the nomenclature being just an “x” showing that there are multiple possible variations of unknown source.
They are fairly easy to grow and generally quite hardy – although some varieties like the ‘Eureka’ group I think are more cold hardy than some others. Although some say the Myer – which is a cross between and orange and a lemon – should be slightly more cold tolerant I have found them to be less hardy.
see my other older comments here: http://www.chickenfish.cc/bio/citrus/
The two that immediately jump to mind are: (mainly because I picked both today for use in early winter here)
- Lisbon – which is a huge fruit that has a thick pith and more mild flavour and is quite fragrant overall
- Eureka – which is a small to average sized fruit with a thin rind and very lemony acidic flavour and smell overall
These two represent two major groups of lemons – there are more – and each has several well known common varieties and growth form. They are also probably the most commonly available in general at fresh food markets.
As a size guide – the Lisbon here in the photgraph is about 15cm long (6 inches) and the Eureka is fairly big one at about 7.5cm long (3 inches). These two trees are still quite small and about 5 years old.
Eureka is I think probably the most productive all year round – but produces most heavily with the fruit ripening and colouring up in early winter. It has flowers and fruit year round at the same time. It tends to drop a lot of leaves and be fairly thinly bushy so can look a bit like it’s got health problems all the time. It does not get too large – about 4 meters high at most – and it does not have a lot of thorns except when small and young. It is a great ‘backyard’ tree to have when you want to be able to walk out your door and grab a lemon to use at any time of the year.
Lisbon is a large tree that is very thorny and produces more slowly but still very prolifically once the tree gets to a good size. It grows strongly and holds the fruit for a long time on it’s branches.
They all taste different and it’s worth exploring the various flavours for different uses. For example I think a eureka juice will cut through a dish with butter and other strong flavours or is ideal for sqeezing onto freshly steamed vegetable while a fragrant Lisbon is more suited to a subtle lemon meringue pie.
I had to add this is what we did with the lemons… lemon merangue pie…