As I child, I absolutely loved lemon curd in tarts, sponges and on toast, and I haven’t lost the taste for it, although my palate’s become a little jaded after years of shop bought stuff. In England, with the price of lemons, eggs and butter, it’s an expensive make, but here in Spain, I made 6 decent sized jars for around €2.50, plus a bit of elbow grease and electric.
The lemons came straight from my tree in the garden, and I predict there will also be marmalade and fresh lemonade, and maybe a second batch of lemon curd, judging by the interest from friends! Both the orange and the lemon trees have excelled themselves this year – possibly because I had quite a few trees removed when I had the garden revamped at the end of 2020. There’s not so much competition for the nutrients in the soil.
Making lemon curd is surprisingly easy, if a little time consuming in the preparation but it’s worth it. The recipe is one I adapted from the BBC Food site. I doubled up on quantities, as it only made 2 – 3 jars, and I had friends lining up as tasters! I used 250g jars, you’d probably get 5 x 350g jars from this quantity. Don’t be tempted to use larger jars, because once it’s open, it soon begins to deteriorate, even when kept in the fridge.
I always sterilise the jars in the oven, then fill them while the lemon curd is still warm but not too hot. Heat the oven to 160C/325F/ Gas mark 3 and place the jars on a tray in the oven for between 15 and 30 minutes.
You can make lemon curd in a large saucepan, or use a large bowl as a bain-marie. I prefer the latter, because there’s no risk of burning the mixture, there are no messy saucepans to clean, and you don’t leave any on the sides of the pan. If you don’t have a big bowl, do as I did and use the inner lining of a 3.5 litre crock pot or slow cooker standing in a large saucepan of water. A wok is ideal for this. Whether you’re using your own lemons or buying them from the market, pick or purchase them at the last minute – the fresher they are, the better your lemon curd will taste. Here’s the recipe:
Combine all the ingredients except the eggs in a large bowl, and set it over a pan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until the butter is melted, then whisk the eggs and fold them into the other ingredients. I use a large bowl for the eggs to get plenty of air into them. It makes for a lighter curd that slides down easily. Allow the lemon curd to cook for approximately 15 – 20 minutes, stirring now and then. It’s ready as soon as the mixture is really thick and creamy and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Let it cool a little, then divide it between your jars.
It really is that easy! You can eat it as soon as it’s cool, but it will be even better if you can exercise a little patience and allow the flavours to develop for a couple of weeks. A word of warning though – once you’ve tasted fresh home-made lemon curd, you’ll never want to go back to the shop bought stuff.
Apart from the superior flavour, home made lemon curd is a completely natural food, with no additives or preservatives. Yes, it’s a bit high in calories and fat, and the vitamin value of the lemons is lost in the cooking, but as the flavour is so intense, you don’t need to use a lot. Worried about using the jar once it’s open? It freezes well, so you could freeze some in ice cube trays ready to thaw and use when required. Although having said that, two of my friends got through their jar in a day. They had it on a baguette for breakfast, lunch and supper!