In my opinion, the best thing about the winter months – aside from having a million & one excuses to make soup – is the return of citrus season. Oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruits… every year I await these juicy orbs of liquid sunshine with the giddy anticipation of a 3-year old on Christmas. The past couple of winters have been particularly plentiful, as friends & coworkers have generously passed down their surplus fruit to me, and this year is proving to be just as fruitful (ha ha). Grapefruits, lemons, and even kumquats are making their way into my thumbtack-sized kitchen, filling it with bright, sunny colors and sweet, floral scents.
One of my bosses seems to have a rather prolific Meyer lemon tree, so she’s been bringing these sweet lemon-mandarin hybrids to the office by the bucketful. They’re usually gone within about 2.5 seconds, so I’m lucky to have been able to snag as many as I did recently. And while I definitely want to do a photo makeover on my Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Shots with Candied Kumquats, I had different plans for this first batch of lemons: the first thing I’d make with them would be a lovely, creamy lemon curd. Though regular lemon curd is delicious, I was eager to try a version using the slightly sweeter Meyer lemon, since the flavor would be slightly different, and the color just gorgeous (and you all know how much I like pretty food!).
Fruit curds, much like jams, jellies and marmalades, are wonderful not only because they help preserve extra produce, but because of their versatility. Once you’ve made a basic fruit curd you can use it as a spread for muffins & scones, or as a filling for pastries, danishes, and of course, pies. And while it sounds like it could be a daunting venture, making your own fruit curd isn’t hard it all. Not to mention the fact that it’s far more affordable than buying an $11 jar of it at some specialty store! Sure, it requires a decent amount of stirring and a healthy dose of patience, but the end result is well worth it (and you get in a free upper body workout too… way to multitask!).
For this project, I decided to work with Alton Brown’s regular lemon curd recipe and tweak it a bit to suit my needs. I absolutely fell in love with how it turned out, and was happy to avoid the whole “strain through a mesh sieve” step that many lemon curd recipes call for, even if I wasn’t able to use the double-boiler method Alton lists in his recipe. While he states it’ll keep well in the fridge for a couple weeks, it’s so darned tasty that I’m not sure it will last that long! Let’s check it out. :)
Meyer Lemon Curd (makes 2 8oz. jars; total cost per jar: ~$2.75)
(Adapted from Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd recipe)
3/4 c Meyer lemon juice
1 t finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1 c sugar
1 stick of butter, cut into small cubesCombine the egg yolks, juice, zest and sugar in a medium saucepan and whisk together until smooth (this will help avoid chunky bits of cooked egg yolk). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 8-9 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the butter, one cube at a time, making sure that the butter melts completely before adding the next piece.
Pour the finished lemon curd into clean containers and either continue your usual canning process, or cover with a layer of plastic wrap that’s been placed directly on the surface of the curd. Serve on muffins or scones, or use as a base for a nice pie, and enjoy!