/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » tasty tuesday: lemon curd

This week was set to be a two-fer Tasty Tuesday, but thanks to what I consider a fail (with a side of epic), the second recipe is on hold.  What was scheduled to be lemon curd AND english muffins is now just lemon curd, because, darnit, the english muffin recipe was a bomb.  It was more like a cornmeal-baked biscuit than something that was crunchy and had delightful little nooks & crannies to hold butter and lemon curd simultaneously.  😛  Brendan likes them, but blech.  I won’t touch them.  Happily, I’ve found another recipe for english muffins that holds a decent amount of promise, so that will go on next week’s schedule.

On the up-side, this lemon curd recipe comes from Alton Brown and it is AMAZING.  A friend of mine gave me a huge box of citrus – one of the benefits of living in Arizona is that everyone has citrus trees and nearly everyone gets tired of picking lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.  As one without said citrus trees and plenty of opportunity to figure out what to DO with all of those delightful things, I am pleased to accept box after box of free fruit.  :)  And so my experimenting began.

I juiced and zested the better part of 20-25# of lemons this past week and learned several things:  1)  Lemon zest does better when stored in the freezer.  The oils that make it so special seem to evaporate when set out to dry, so freezing it seems to be the next best thing.  2)  Lemon oil and juice (specifically) eats through latex gloves.  It’s a good thing I have lots of these for cleaning and kitchen work, because I got about 10 lemons done with one pair of gloves when the thumb would rip out from the citrus’ acidity.  3)  A well-made lemon curd is one of the most divine things ever, especially on toast.  Mark wants me to fill a pie with the stuff, but right now, we’re shmearing it all over toast.  4)  All of those lemons produce about 2.5 quarts of lemon juice, which is more than enough for my needs in the course of a year.  If you make fresh lemonade, you’ll go through that amount quickly, but we stick to water almost exclusively here as the beverage of choice, so it will last quite a while.

I was surprised to find butter as a key ingredient in lemon curd – I never would have guessed this to be the case.  We’re not afraid of butter here, and when I thought about it, it made sense.  If you want a full creamy mouth-feel to a finished product, fat is the best way to achieve that.  Melting and slowly incorporating butter is a logical step in the process.

Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 c. of sugar (for lemons – for oranges, drop to ½ c. of sugar)
  • 4 large lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 c. of juice is your goal)
  • ½ c. butter, cut in large pats & chilled

Start a pot of water for the bottom part of your double-boiler on high heat, lowering to medium heat once the water boils.  In the meantime, separate your eggs and combine the yolks with the sugar in a large metal bowl – one that is suitable to use in a double-boiler fashion.  Whisk the mixture until well-combined and then add in the lemon zest and juice.  Whisk further and set whisk aside.  Place bowl over simmering water on stove and use a (rubber/silicone) spatula to stir regularly.  You’ll feel the sugar crystals dissolve and see some thickening take place – as the mixture thickens, stir consistently, making sure you’re pulling up from the bottom of the pan to the top with your spatula.

When the mixture hits “pudding thickness” in the pan (this took me about 15-20 min of cooking), remove it from heat.  It will easily coat the back of a spoon at this point.  Putting one pat of butter in at a time, stir until the butter is fully melted, and then add the next pat of butter.  Based on the rate of cooling of your pan, the last pat or two of butter will be more stubborn about melting and being incorporated; that’s how you know it’s almost done.  When tasting it at this point, you should have an overwhelming taste of lemon, a curve of sweetness, and a slight pinch of saltiness (from the butter), as well as a creamy mouth-feel from the butterfat.  When all the butter is incorporated, bottle your final product and allow it to cool completely before refrigerating.  Your lemon curd will last two-three weeks in the fridge, assuming you can leave it in the fridge and not eat it with a spoon, with yogurt, on toast or english muffins, top pancakes, etc., etc., etc.

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  • http://homespunheritage.blogspot.com/ Jolene

    I love reading your blog! The lemon curd sounds soooo yummy!

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com sue

    Thanks, Jolene! :) I’m quite thankful for the lemon juice I squeezed, because it will make more lemon curd as time rolls on. :)