Lemons (and other citrus) are so very wonderful, they’re bright and cheery and are in season in the middle of winter when not much fruit is available. It’s such a treat, especially if you try to eat seasonally. My favorite citrus is the Meyer lemon and fortunately we can grow them. We preserve most of them but I always try to make several batches Meyer lemon curd for the freezer while we have fresh Meyer lemons.
What are Meyer lemons?
Meyer lemons are a cross between a mandarin orange and a regular lemon. They were first cultivated in China and are often grown in pots as an ornamental tree. They are lovely so if you have a sunny room you should consider growing one.
Their skin is thinner than a Libson or Eureka lemon and they are more round and juicer than regular lemons at the grocery store. The juice is milder and sweeter, too.
Meyer lemons do not ship as well or store as long as regular lemons so you won’t see them year round at the store like you do regular lemons.
Anything you can make with a regular lemon you can make with a Meyer lemon. And that includes lemon curd.
If you have a lot of Meyer lemons be sure to check out these Meyer lemon recipes. Also, you can use the entire Meyer lemon, so be sure to zest it and save the the pith for making pectin. Here’s how I preserve Meyer lemons with no waste.
What is lemon curd?
The most common fruit curd is lemon curd and traditionally lemon curd is served with afternoon tea and cookies. But it can certainly be served with pretty much anything you’d put jelly or syrup on – or eat it straight out of the jar.
Unlike jelly or syrup lemon curd is made with eggs – usually just egg yolk – so it’s more like a custard or pudding than a jelly.
How to make Meyer lemon curd?
There is one simple rule you must follow to make a good lemon curd – do not heat the mixture too quickly, do not let it boil, or the eggs will cook and you’ll get lemony scrambled eggs.
Patience in cooking is not always my strong suit but when I make fruit curd I follow the “don’t heat the mixture too quickly” rule.
Most people make Meyer lemon curd with just the egg yolks and not the whole egg. Unlike lemon meringue pie where there’s something to do with the egg whites, you would have to make something entirely different to use up the egg whites. Because I don’t want to do that I just use the whole egg when I make fruit curd.
The first thing I do is set up a make shift double boiler by putting a pot of water on the stove and finding a stainless steel bowl that will fit on top as the double boiler.
I crack the eggs into the stainless steel bowl and whisk them together….a lot. You want to make sure that all the egg white is incorporated into the egg yoke so there won’t be any white lumps in your lemon curd.
Once the eggs are whisked together add the sugar and whisk again. Then add the Meyer lemon juice and zest.
Put the bowl over the pot of water and heat over medium (or medium high) heat.
I continually stir the curd (it only takes a few minutes), mainly because I’m afraid I’ll overcook it if I step away. I’ve done that with too many things, and I’m not willing to take a chance on overcooking the lemon curd. The lemon curd is done cooking when it reaches 160°F or it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
You can also put a small plate in the freezer before you start making the curd and use that to test for readiness. Put a small amount of lemon curd on the cold plate and if it thickens when it cools off it’s ready.
Some people like to strain their lemon curd through a mesh strainer. I don’t do that because I like the lemon zest to stay in the lemon curd. But if you have lumps in the lemon curd (you shouldn’t if you whisked well and stirred it while it was cooking) straining it is a great way to get rid of the lumps. So is an immersion blender.
Once the lemon curd is thick, add butter one tablespoon at a time and stirring after adding each tablespoon.
Once all the butter has melted and is stirred in, put the Meyer lemon curd in small canning jars and let cool. Once they are cooled, put a lid and label on the jar. Meyer lemon curd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to a year. You can freeze it in the canning jar without it breaking – I promise.
Thaw curd in refrigerator for several hours before using.
Canning lemon curd
Yes, you can preserve lemon curd by canning (according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation). HOWEVER…. and there are a few howevers….
Normally, it is not recommended to can anything with eggs in it. Apparently since lemon curd is so acidic it’s an exception to the “don’t can anything with eggs” rule. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that you only use bottled lemon juice for canning lemon curd since commercially bottled lemon juice is standardized for acidity. Since I want to use the juice from my Meyer lemons to make lemon curd I don’t can lemon curd.
The other however, is that canned lemon curd is only shelf stable for a few months. From the National Center for Home Food Preservation….
“For best quality, store in a cool, dark place (away from light). Plan to use canned lemon curd within 3 to 4 months. Browning and/or separation may occur with longer storage; discard any time these changes are observed.”
So, feel free to can lemon curd but use commercially bottled lemon juice and know that it might not last very long.
You can read about the tests they did to come up with the exact recipe and processing times if that interests you.