There is nothing quite like home-made lemon curd. For a start, the colour of it just makes you happy. Made with really good quality non-battery-farmed eggs, real butter, the best lemons you can find (off your own tree, ideally), and sugar, the finished product should be the vibrant colour of day-old chicks, or sunshine daffodils.
Lemon curd is one of the very first things I learned to make. I can’t have been more than five or six. My Mum used to let me stand on a chair and stir the ingredients gently in the top of the double-boiler until they magically came together into the unctuous lemon curdy deliciousness that I couldn’t wait to spread on a slice of bread. Or, impatient, I’d lick the wooden spoon tentatively, inevitably scorching my tongue and fighting back the tears lest I be forbidden from ‘helping’ in the kitchen ever again!
Nowadays, I don’t have a double boiler. Come to think of it, I’ve not seen one in years. Perhaps they’ve gone out of fashion. If I were purist, I’d fashion a bain marie with a glass bowl over simmering water. I’m no purist. And I’m impatient. And why have two things to wash up when you can make do with one? I make lemon curd in a normal saucepan these days. This means it’s even more important to stand over it, gently stirring over a gentle heat, to make sure that you don’t end up with fragrant, sweet, lemon-flavoured scrambled eggs! It doesn’t take long (significantly less than the 10 mins indicated in my Mum’s recipe), and there’s something therapeutic and utterly rewarding about the process of stirring and watching these simple ingredients come together and gradually thicken.
The thing with home-made lemon curd is that, being free of artificial preservatives, it does not keep. But that shouldn’t be a problem – it’s so yummy, you’ll be tempted to sneak spoonsful straight from the bottle when no-one is watching. I don’t have that problem – well there has to be some advantage to being single! Anyway, I tend to give away most of what I make. People cannot believe how different it is from the pale commercial stuff that calls itself by the same name.
RECIPE: Lemon Curd
- 3 lemons – grated rind and juice
- 75 g butter
- 150g sugar
- 3 eggs, very well beaten
Place lemon rind and juice, butter and sugar into a saucepan over a low heat. Stir continuously. When some of the butter has melted and the mixture is still not too hot, add the eggs and use a hand whisk to mix all ingredients together. Continue stirring over a low heat until it starts to thicken. If you’re using a whisk, at the point it starts to thicken, change to a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula so that you are pulling the thickening curd away from the sides and bottom of the pan. Do not allow the curd to come to the boil. The finished curd should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pour the hot curd straight into sterilised jars.