Daughter Miriam gave me a pile of Meyer lemons and I made my lemon curd with them. Wife Jan’s response was, “This is good, but what would really be great is tangerine curd.” Off to the store I went.
I found only one store that actually had tangerines at this time of year. They had two varieties—Clementine and Satsuma. Tangerines usually have very thin skins, which make the a bit difficult to zest and juice, but the Satsuma were firm enough that it was not a problem.
When I had zested and juiced my tangerines I was left with one and a quarter cup of juice. Normally, I start my curds with three quarters of a cup. I adjusted my recipe for the greater amount—in truth there is no such thing as too much fruit curd.
When I started making fruit curds I went on-line and found that the recipe’s ingredient lists were pretty much the same—butter, eggs, lemon juice, sugar, and lemon zest. Many of the differences in the recipes were subtle. Should you use 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 not cook the curd exactly right, the eggs would cook into unsightly white strings. I found that their problem was really in a lack of patience. First, you must take the time to thoroughly cream the butter and sugar together. Then you must take your time in beating in the eggs and then beating in the lemon juice. This technique breaks apart the proteins of the egg whites into tiny and separated bits that cannot clump together into white blobs. Finally, you have to start cooking the mixture at a very low temperature while stirring constantly. By starting low you allow the eggs to temper preventing scrambled egg syndrome. Once the butter is melted and the egg are tempered you my slowing increase the heat—still stirring constantly—until the curd thickens
Karl’s Tangerine Curd
12 Tbs. grated tangerine zest
¼ cup fresh tangerine juice (from 10 Satsuma tangerines)
1½ cup sugar
9 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
5 large eggs
1. Zest the tangerines with a micro plainer.
Tip: This will produce about 2 tablespoon of zest.
Note: If you are planning to put your curd into jars sterilize them before you start, so that they are ready when you need them.
2. Juice the tangerines and strain out any tiny seed bits and pulp and measure out 1¼ of a cup.
Note: Set the measuring cup aside.
3. Set the butter and eggs on the counter and let them come to room temperature, about one hour.
4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min.
Tip: I found that a 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.
Note: While mixing the butter and sugar together it is fairly easy to keep the ingredients in the bowl. However once you start adding the eggs and juice it can get quite messy. A large deep-sided bowl reduces the mess.
5. Beat the eggs to the butter mixture, one egg at a time.
Tip: Mix each egg in for two minutes on medium high between eggs. You want to break up and separate all of the bits of egg white.
6. Beat in the juice and continue beating for 2-6 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 puddled 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.
7. Pour the mix into a medium, heavy-based saucepan.
Tip: Start cooking the mixture over a very low heat until starts to look smooth.
8. Slowly 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 you would end up with a flavorful mess.
9. 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.”
10. Remove the tangerine 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.