When lemons are in season, you’ll probably find yourself casting around for different recipes to use and preserve the bounty. Lemon cordial is always a winner, as is Lemon yoghurt cake. Here’s a bitter lemon & geranium marmalade recipe, and you can adapt either this simple mandarin chutney recipe or this Indian lime chutney recipe if you’re keen on something savoury. Of course, there’s always the ubiquitous Moroccan preserved lemons, and don’t forget to save your peels and lemon scraps to make powdered citrus dust (to use in things like lemon pepper seasoning) and citrus cleaning vinegar. But for the most luscious option, you can’t go past lemon curd.
Lemon curd is a decadent, rich preserve that’s far simpler to make than it has any business being, so there’s no reason everyone shouldn’t know how it’s done. This recipe states lemon, but it’s equally delicious when made with oranges, blood oranges, limes, mandarins, cumquats, grapefruit or any variation of citrus you can think of. Passionfruit is another well-known version of this curd, and there are lots of other inventive versions out there.
What’s the basic recipe?
We like to keep a mental tab of the ‘basic recipe’ for any type of preserve we make, as it allows for minor deviations – whether intentionally creative, or more accidental – without fear of the end result not working.
For example, our basic recipe for Jam is:
Chop up fruit, boil it with sugar (and maybe a bit of water) until it Sets.
And our basic recipe for Jelly is:
Chop up fruit, cook it with water til it’s soft, strain well, then boil it with sugar until it Sets.
The basic recipe for curd – to us – is:
Combine eggs and sugar, add fruit juice & butter, and whisk over gentle heat until it’s thick.
With this basic recipe in mind, you can see how easily it can be adapted to fruits other than citrus. You could press apples, squeeze blueberries or raspberries, blitz and strain rhubarb juice… there are so many options and recipes out there, it’s worth having a play around!
(Makes around 11x 200ml jars)
12 medium eggs
3 cups white sugar
500 grams butter, room temp, cubed
2 cups lemon juice
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
NOTE – this recipe calls for ‘double boiling’, which is a really gentle way of cooking food. If you try to make this curd in a pot directly over heat, it will cook the eggs too much, and your preserve will ‘split’ and end up lumpy and unappealing. To double boil, simply find a bowl that fits neatly over a pot, then put enough water in the pot to just reach the base of the bowl.
Lightly beat eggs and sugar together in the top bowl of a double-boiler setup.
- Bring base pot to the boil then turn to a simmer.
- Place bowl on top of pot, then stir mixture over heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Add lemon juice and grated zest and stir well.
- Add butter. Stir gently until all melted.
- Lightly but continuously whisk mixture over gentle heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Spoon into hot sterilised jars and seal while hot.
Store in the fridge for up to 2 months. Consume within 1 week of opening.
* You could make this recipe using oranges, grapefruits, lemons or cumquats too.
* There are lots of other curd recipes out there which play on the idea of introducing a non-citrus fruit juice in place of the lemon juice. Each fruit is slightly different, so if you want to experiment with this, best look up different recipes.
* If you want to experiment with other flavours, you can replace the grated zest with finely chopped herbs (lemon myrtle is particularly delicious) or powdered dried fruit such as raspberry or strawberry.
* For an extra special batch of this curd, you could make it with oranges or mandarins and stir through a 1/4 cup of orange liqueur just before jarring up.
* If you want super smooth silky curd, you can strain it through a sieve right before jarring up. We never do.
* This preserve definitely requires refrigeration, as it contains dairy and lightly cooked eggs which can spoil quite quickly.
* Enjoy on crumpets, toast, in shortcrust pastry tarts, on a cheesecake, or just on a spoon.
Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste
Take a look at some of our other ideas and recipes for using up lemons and citrus…