Welcome to Hill Country Herbalist

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meyer Lemon: Beautiful Inside and Out

Herbhusband and I purchased a Meyer Lemon tree about 6 years ago. We love this specimen, from the time it blossoms to the time it bears its sunny yellow fruit. It takes about a year from the time the tree produces buds, blossoms, sets tiny green fruit, and nurtures and ripens the fruit to the size of a good size orange. It flowers in fall and spring. We look forward to the year long wait when we can harvest the lemons and slice one open to see the juicy fruit. Suddenly, all of our patience and efforts are reinforced - the fruit is the juiciest and tastiest ever experienced!

This blog post is dedicated to the dear Meyer lemon - I think every household should have one...not only for the health benefits but, for the connection one feels to the plant when watching it express the cycle of life over the course of a year. The blossoms are very fragrant; attracting butterflies and honey bees, making it the place to be for our beneficial insect friends. We winter our meyer in the greenhouse and when we open the door the sweet blossom fragrance intoxicates us.

Health Benefits:

Just 1/4 of a cup of the juice is almost half of our daily recommended amount for vitamin C! Vitamin C is a great antioxidant which helps boost our cells rejuvenating abilities to fight free radicals. Free radicals can hurt and damage cell membranes leading to inflammation in the body. Vitamin C can fight free radicals and has been known to help with inflammation and arthritis in the process
We all want that kind of power on our side!

As an herbal product maker, I pay special attention to Vitamin C's ability to boost cell rejuvenation and to fight free radicals (associated with cell damage and aging). Vitamin C is an excellent anti-aging weapon! Most of us apply many serums and crèmes designed to help us fight the signs of aging, but what about the inside? Drinking lemon water each day can help you do just that! Hooray! (Does the anti-browning effects of squirting some lemon on sliced avocado come to mind? That's a visual of citrus power!)

Recipes - must try!

Meyer Lemon Salad Dressing:
- 1 part Meyer lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
- 2 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil (drizzle in more olive oil in the end if the dressing is too tart for you - drizzle in to taste)
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- salt to taste

pour contents into a jar and place lid on jar; shake vigorously and drizzle over fresh salad. This is wonderful over a salad that offers boiled eggs and tomatoes.

Lemon Water:
get your juices flowing each morning by squeezing a wedge of lemon juice in an 8 ounce glass of water. I've noted instant hydration and perkiness after drinking a glass of this water. The juice in water tonifies the liver and stimulates enzyme production.

Meyer lemon salmon

- Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon (flank to serve 4)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tbs dill
- 1 Meyer lemon finely sliced into rings
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a 9x13 baking dish, drizzle half of the olive oil to coat the bottom of the dish. Rinse the salmon and pat dry; place in the dish. Sprinkle salmon with chopped red onion, dill, salt and pepper. Place sliced lemon over salmon and along the sides of the salmon. Drizzle remaining olive oil over salmon and lemon. Place in oven and bake for 17-20 minutes. (If you like a crispier salmon, end on high broil for 3-5 minutes).

Meyer Lemon Peel:
Save those wonderful peels! They are a great addition to baked goods and beauty products. To do this, remove all fleshy fruit from the peel. Leave the peel to dry on the counter or use a dehydrator. Once completely dehydrated of moisture, grind the peels in a grinder and place in glass jar and seal with a lid. You can infuse vinegar with the peels to create a base for a kitchen cleaner, you can add the ground peels to sugar scrubs, salt scrubs or add when you want a special zesty taste in your baked goods.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today in the Herbal Garden and Hill Country

Since my last post, the earth continues to come alive! It's so nice to walk outside and see GREEN rather than drabby browns.
The Texas Persimmon has started to produce leaf buds so there are specks of green on the tips of the trees. The Agarita shrubs had buds last post and now those rosey buds are opening up to display yellow tiny flowers. This is the time to pick some for a tasty treat!

The Mullein also continues to take shape! The first picture in this post is what the bee balm (Monarda)looks like right about now...lovely baby bee balm coming up makes me smile.

This past weekend I planted echinacea, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, sage, bell peppers, jalapenos, dill, yarrow and cintronella plants in raised garden beds. . Seen here is a 4'x8' raised bed with a 3'x3' raised trainagular bed in the background. The traingular bed has a china rose growing in it with catnip growing at the base. The china rose, in time, will follow the perimeter of the garden and should be quite showy when in bloom.

In the greenhouse, I potted up more heirloom tomatoes and continue to tend to thyme, wood betony, st. john's wort, evening primrose, self heal, lavender, myer lemon, lime, hibiscus, mints, loquats, and pinapple guava.

One of our big projects is to build a 5'x32' raised garden bed made of limestone rocks stacked 16" to plant the two figs, pinapple guava, and loquats in. This bed will line the interior back portion of the 32x40 garden we created two years ago. As you can see by the photo, this is a big job!! Although, we just started rolling up our sleeves on this particular bed, we keep the end result in mind to continue our motivation to complete this project.
Currently, we have two 4'x8' raised beds, one 4'x10' bed, and two 3'x3' triangular beds in the front corners of the garden. This Spring we will add another 4'x10 bed and finish the 5'x32' bed. When it's all said and done the garden will boast two 4'x10' beds, four 4'x8' beds, two 3'x3' triangular beds, the 5'x32' bed and a water fountain in the middle of it all. I simply cannot wait! As always, I will share my gardening and herbal adventures with you on this blog. I look forward to seeing the plants take hold and exploring this spring and summer with you!