Adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe
Jan had a desire for lemon curd, so she bought some Meyer lemons. I decided I should make it before the lemons went bad. On-line the ingredient lists of the recipes were pretty much the same—butter, eggs, lemon juice, sugar, and lemon zest.
Many of the differences in the recipes were subtle. Whole eggs, just the yolks, or a combination. How much butter, lemon juice, and sugar do you add? Do you add a pinch of salt, as a flavor enhancer, or not?
Many recipes discussed the difficulty of straining out the egg whites. If you did not cook the curd exactly right, the egg whites would cook into unsightly white blobs. The first recipe I tried was from Fine Cooking and I have never had any such problems.
Their technique was to cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and then beat in the lemon juice—I use an electric egg beater. This technique breaks apart the proteins of the egg whites into tiny and separated bits that cannot clump together into white blobs. As long as you do not let the pot come to a boil, the heating temperature ceases to be an issue.
Note: The Fine Cooking recipe calls for you to put the lemon curd into a bowl covered with plastic wrap to prevent a “skin” from forming. This recipe produces about two cups of lemon curd and I usually put it in two 8 oz. canning jars. If you decide to go with jars, sterilize them while you are waiting for the ingredients to come to room temperature.
Karl’s Meyer Lemon Curd
1 Tbs. grated Meyer lemon zest
1 cup sugar
⅔ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1. Zest three Meyer lemons with a micro plainer.
Tip: This will produce about one tablespoon of zest.
2. Put the lemon zest in a small bowl and add the sugar. Mix well, breaking up any clumps of zest, and set aside.
3. Juice the lemons and strain out any tiny seed bits and pulp and measure out ⅔ of a cup. Set the measuring cup aside.
4. Set the butter and eggs on the counter and let them come to room temperature, about one hour.
5. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min.
Tip: I found that mixer could not break up all of the lumps of butter. Halfway through, I tool a rubber spatula and mashed the butter bits into the sugar and then continued mixing.
6. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one egg at a time.
Tip: Mix the eggs in for two minutes on medium high between eggs. You want to break up and separate all of the bits of white.
7. Beat in the lemon juice and continue beating for 2-4 minutes, until most of the juice in incorporated into the mixture.
Tip: Stop beating and push the mix out of the way, if there is still a lot juice puddle in the bottom of the bowl, keep beating. When free juice gets down to about a quarter of a cup you are done.
Note: The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.
8. Pour the mix into a medium, heavy-based saucepan. Start cooking the mixture over low heat until starts to look smooth.
9. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
Tip: Constantly scrape the bottom and sides of the pot. You do not want any hot spots or bits sticking, where they may get over cooked.
Note: Never let the mix come to a boil! This would cause the eggs and butter to “break” and yo would end up with a flavorful mess.
10. Cook the mixture until well thickened and it sticks to the back of the spatula.
Tip: Fine Cooking says to cook it to 170° F on a thermometer, but I prefer to go by eye. I cook the curd until it “looks right.”
11. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and transfer it to a bowl or prepared jars.
Tip: If using a bowl, press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator.
Note: The curd will thicken further as it cools and will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.