Making sense of the world by making more of it
I love lemon curd, I always have. I don’t know if it’s the silky creaminess, or the bright, tangy flavour, or the magical marriage of the two, but I love the curd. Lemon is fantastic, lime is also good. I’m not such a fan of other fruit curds; for me only the citrus really manages to carry it off.
I remember making my first attempt with my dad while I was still in university. Being the extremely food safety-conscious family that we are (cough), my dad and I had set a couple glass jars, definitely not mason jars, in the oven to sterilize, while stir, stir, stirring away at the sunshine in a pot on the stove.
It was pretty good, but, since I’m not a toast eater and my dad doesn’t have quite the appetite for lemon curd that I do, we soon discovered those biggish jars (maybe a little less than a pint?) in the fridge — and they were all in the fridge, since we had no way of sealing the jars for shelf stability — lasted quite awhile. We vowed that the next time we made curd, we’d use smaller jars, maybe those little Greaves ones we always seemed to have lying around.
Fast forward to this long weekend, with The Boy on a plane 30, 000 feet above the continent and I, with a mess of lemons and no shortage of masons jars. The time had come. So I got to zesting and juicing, whisking and stirring, slicing and ladling and then… and then almost before I knew it, I ended up with this — 2 pints of sunny yellow delish in jars.
Admittedly, it didn’t all go quite that smoothly Sunday night. The recipe made rather more than it had said it would, so that bottom wide-mouthed jar was a last-minute snag, and one of the standard half-pints didn’t seal properly, in fact, exploding in the canning pot. I was so dispirited, I just fished it out, poured off the water, and stuck it in the fridge. (Yes, with one of my chalkboard paint lids. Even that didn’t cheer me up though.) I’m not sure if it’s the new plastic lids that led to the canning fail (I have seriously never had that happen to me in my canning until this year) but the next morning I rallied and re-processed it, and now it’s fine.
I’d roughly based my curd on Marisa’s recipe, although I definitely made some changes: no Meyer lemons, for example, and I used whole eggs rather than just the yolks. In the end this is what I ended up using…
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 lemons, juiced (I ended up with a scant 1 cup of juice)
1 cup of butter, cut into pieces (I found this too much, next time I’d try it with 3/4 cup)
zest from the juiced lemons
For the directions, I pretty much followed Marisa’s recipe, although I dispensed with the straining, and just stirred in the zest and set to canning. (I will say that my curd came together in about 8-10 minutes so, again, this isn’t exactly a time-consuming preserve.) I’d read somewhere that the canning process dulled the brilliant yellow of the curd, leading the person in question to choose to keep their jars in the freezer rather than canning them.
Curious about this, I decided to find out. Below is a picture of curd from the exploded jar (left) vs a spoonful of leftover curd that didn’t make its way into a jar (right)…
Honestly, I don’t see a difference in colour. In texture, certainly; the canned curd is definitely grittier, although I’m not entirely sure how much of that is due to the exploding vs the extra heat. Even once shelf-stable, lemon curd doesn’t keep particularly long. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to just make myself a half-pint batch a few times a year and keep it in the fridge — heck, it’s not like any of the lemons I buy are local — but there’s something cheering about seeing those bright yellow jars on the shelf. I probably could spare the freezer space for them but… I’d rather have them in my pantry.
Given that I’ve now finished all the lemon curd “leftovers”, I’ll soon find out just how much the curd suffers from being processed in the water bath. I’m especially motivated to since Marisa‘s recipe gives the following (doubtless sound) advice…
Eat on toast, stirred into plain yogurt or straight from the jar with a spoon.