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Monday, November 18, 2013

Pick Lemons in December

Q. How do I determine the best time to pick lemons? Mine are yellow with some being very firm and others feeling "givvy". This has been a good year and my Meyer lemon "bush" will afford us lemon curd and juice for the next year.

Flowers of Meyer Lemon
A. I would pick them as they mature which will usually be late November through possibly the early part of January. You should have them all picked however no later than mid-January so you do not interfere with next seasons production.
When picking lemons try not to totally remove the stem but leave a small part still attached. This will help keep it from losing moisture in storage and keep longer.
            They will keep very nicely for a few weeks in the fridge. I would pick on which is the yellowest and taste it. As it gets colder, more flavors will develop and sugars. Pay close attention to how it tastes now and pick one in a week or so and compare as the season progresses.
            Another option is to use a device which measures the sugar content of the fruit. One such device is called a refractometer. Refractometers measure the sugar content of liquid from inside the fruit by passing sunlight through it and detecting how this light is altered.
Refractometer running around $50 to $75. Digital versions are more expensive.
            They can range in price from about $50 to $200 depending on how sophisticated you want it. You can find them online from companies that sell equipment to orchards.
            I am guessing you will hit the peak about early to mid-December. But still the best way to judge is by taste.

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