Friday, January 26, 2018

Lemon Curd for January

In this day and age where imports allow U.S.A. consumers to have fruits and veggies of all sorts all year long, it's good to remember that most things are at their best when eaten during the season when they ripen locally. A perfect example would be the Meyer lemon. Although it can be found at the market, in California in January you are just as likely to find it for free at the gym, the club meeting, or church because the lemon trees often grow to such a size that dozens and dozens of lemons ripen at once and the lucky homeowner finds that there are plenty to share. It is a little like the zucchini in summer - an embarrassment of riches.

I've recently been gifted with quite a few Meyer lemons by friends and friends of friends, plus I had egg yolks left over from making the Pretzel Peanut Butter Cake, so I decided to try making one of my favorite lemon recipes, lemon curd, but with non-dairy margarine instead of butter. The curd is delicious and in flavor very hard to tell apart from the butter based curd, but it is interesting that the curd itself is just a bit more opaque that curd made with butter. Both are very only need a small amount on your toast, English muffin or biscuit or scone. (Worth making scones so that you can lavish them with this curd and maybe some raspberry jam and a little whipped cream if you can do dairy...)

You can also use the curd to fill thumbprint cookies, to fill layers of cake if you are making a layer cake, as a pie or tart filling as so on. Some people find that their favorite way to enjoy lemon curd is spooned directly from the jar.

I've had this recipe a long time and I don't remember where it came from. I know there are other ways to make lemon curd, but this one produces a curd that has body, a nice zesty lemon flavor, and a richness but it isn't overly sweet. It takes a little time to zest the fruit, then juice it, to beat the eggs and sugar long enough that it is truly fluffy, and then to whisk the mixture constantly for about 15 minutes, but you are worth the effort!

Zesty Lemon Curd Yields 3 Cups  - Stores up to 3 months in fridge

3-4 fragrant, bright-skinned lemons
1/2 Cup (1 stick) plus 2 Tablespoons butter (or margarine), cut up
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 1/4 Cups sugar

1) Run 2 inches of water into the base pan of a double boiler and set over medium heat to come to a brisk simmer.

2) Boil water in a large pot and use it to sterilize three half-pint canning jars and lids and screw-on bands. Remove from water bath and drain on a tea towel. When cool, turn right-side up, ready for the curd.

3) Grate or shred enough lemon zest from washed & dried lemons to make 1 1/2 tablespoons, packed, lemon zest. Place the zest in the top pan of the double boiler. Juice the lemons and strain juice to make 1/2 Cup; add to the zest. Add the cut up butter & salt to the pan. Set aside.

4) Beat the egg yolks and whole egg together at high speed in the large bowl of an electric mixer until they are foamy; gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat the mixture until it is pale, fluffy, & very thick, about 5 minutes.

5) Scrape the egg mixture into the double-boiler top and set the top into the base containing simmering water. At once begin whisking the mixture; cook it, whisking constantly, until it has thickened smoothly and is steaming hot, about 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the curd; it is done when it will coat a metal or wooden spoon heavily. Remove the upper pan from the hot water.

6) Pour the curd into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and press it through with a rubber spatula, leaving the shreds of zest behind (discard shreds). (It is o.k. to leave the zest in the curd, but the texture is different.) Scrape the curd into sterilized jars. Let it cool uncovered. Cap jars of cooled curd with sterilized lids. Refrigerate the curd.

Note: This can be made with lime zest & juice. Use 1 Tablespoon lime zest and 1/2 Cup lime juice and follow the recipe the same way for everything else.

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