Recently my family took a trip to southern California for my husband’s work and to visit his mom. When we returned, we returned with an enormous sack of lemons. Now… I love lemon flavored almost anything, but what is a person supposed to do with almost twenty pounds of lemons?
After browsing some cookbooks and food blogs I decided that one of my first experiments would have to be to make lemon curd. Mind you I had never tasted lemon curd, but the recipes that it was associated with in cookbooks sounded pretty delicious; so I decided to give it a try.
What is a Fruit Curd?
Fruit curd is a fruit spread that has been popular in Britain since the 19th century. Fruit curds are typically made of lemon, lime, or orange but also can be made with blackberries, raspberries, or cranberries. The smooth and intense flavored curds are similar to jams, but are made with fruit juice, sugar, beaten eggs, and zest.
Curds spoil faster then jams so they are typically made in small amounts. Which just means I will have to make lemon curd more often!
How Can Fruit Curds be Used?
As I mentioned before, ever since the late 19th century fruit curds have been used as a spread on top of scones and breads during tea time in Britain. Fast forward a few hundred years and lemon curd can be found as a star in many recipes and meals.
Uses for Fruit Curd
As a fruit filling in between cake layers or jelly rolls.
In parfaits or mixed in with yogurt.
To thinly glaze the tops of cakes or cupcakes.
As a spread on pancakes, French toast or crepes.
Made into a dip in combination with cream cheese.
As a filling for pre-baked pie or tartlet crusts.
Used as pudding, ice cream or cheesecake topping.
Swirled with berry preserves or sauces for an eye pleasing dessert.
Mixed into cheesecake before baking.
Spooned on top of a yummy bread pudding.
Can Fruit Curds be Canned?
The National Center for Home Food Preservation has completed studies on whether or not fruit curds can safely be preserved during the canning process. The group, in cooperation with the University of Georgia, did extensive testing to make sure that results were safe for consumption.
A few things stood out in their report.
First, they suggest that if the fruit curd will be canned in a hot water bath or a pressure canner, that store bought bottled lemon or lime juice be used. They state that home squeezed juices should not be used because they have less standardized acidity than bottled juices. If you are not planning on “canning” the fruit curd you make and it will be consumed quickly, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Second, the report states that fruit curds that have been preserved in the canning process should be used within three to four months, which is a considerably shorter period of time than most preserved jams, jellies, and preserves.
Today I am focusing on lemon curds, in a effort to use all the lemons we have before they spoil! Lemon curds are the most well known and popular type of curd.
What Does Lemon Curd Taste Like?
Lemon curd tastes remarkably like lemon meringue pie. In fact, the custard of a lemon meringue pie has almost the same ingredients depending on which recipe you follow. The difference is that custards have less juice and zest.
Having a higher proportion of juice and zest does give curds a pretty intense tart flavor. It is amazing! I think it is my new favorite dessert. If you could call curd all by itself a dessert. The batch I made was so delicious my step-daughter and I had a hard time resisting just taking spoonfuls, but that is not how it is intended to be eaten. Oh well for that plan!
How to Make Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is ridiculously easy to make. I was actually a bit surprised at how easy it was. It does have to be babysat a bit, but is a quick recipe that has phenomenal results. I ended up adapting a recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook Newlywed Edition.
First things first… I used my KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer with the Citrus Juicer Stand Mixer Attachment to juice half of the lemons we had. It makes juicing citrus super easy and super fast. I ended up juiced about four cups of juice, but only used one cup of juice for this recipe.
Next, I combined the sugar (I used part brown and part white sugar), lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl with a whisk. I used brown sugar to give the curd a slight molasses flavor. I did this because my step-daughter doesn’t quite care for sour flavors and hoped the molasses flavor would make this more to her liking.
Following that, I mixed in butter and eggs.
The next part is where this recipe will need your full attention, but only for eight minutes! Easy! Simmer the mixture you have made in a saucepan for eight minutes stirring CONSTANTLY. Set a timer to make sure you don’t over cook it. You will know that you are finished with the curd when it thickens to the point that it sticks to the back of a wooden spoon. Make sure not to boil.
At this point, quickly pour the curd into either two 1-cup containers or one 1-pint container.
Curds can stay refrigerated for up to one week.
Serve either chilled or at room temperature.
Below you can find my recipe for lemon curd. I hope you enjoy it!
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