A classic condiment that enhances a wide range of dishes. Kiwi Gardener's Kristina Jensen shares her recipe.
It always confused me as a child when I heard my grandmother call this preserve lemon honey, mainly because I helped her to make it back when I was a little lassie, and she most certainly didn’t put any honey in it. Back then, in her kitchen, I was beginning my apprenticeship as Chief Stirrer, paying close attention to culinary details. I discovered that it also goes by the name of lemon curd and I’ll stick with that. It makes more sense.
Google lemon curd these days and you will find versions made with honey, plus versions that contain a mixture of sugar and honey, as well as recipes that use cornflour instead of eggs for the thickening process. I’m sticking with Alice’s dog-eared and slightly grubby recipe handed down to me by her daughter, Nancy, who was my mother. Lemon curd has all the wonderful properties that a true sweet tooth loves. Creamy, lots of sugar with the ever-so-slightly sour taste of lemon overriding the sweetness. It makes a perfect gift, uses up lemons and eggs and can be smothered onto and into everything from pancakes to yoghurt, to frozen desserts. One teaspoonful stirred into a bowl of thick Greek yoghurt and blueberries is simply my idea of heaven!
There is a secret to the smoothness that took me quite a while to achieve. My lemon curd was turning out a bit grainy and it was a lesson on community cooking that would finally remedy the problem. When pouring the eggs into the hot-but-not-boiling butter/lemon/sugar mixture, it is essential to have a friend on hand to assist. Have the friend gently and slowly pour the thoroughly beaten egg mixture in while you whisk briskly. Without a friend, I was pouring, whisking and somehow having to keep the double-boiler pot arrangement secure on the stove. This is not only dangerous but makes grainy lemon curd! The simple addition of One Good Friend should hopefully produce for you, too, the desired consistency of smooth creaminess so sought after by makers of lemon curd.
Alice's Lemon Curd
225g white sugar
Grate the zest from the lemons. You can use a grater if you like very tiny pieces of peel, or you can use a zester to make long strips, which will add another dimension of texture to your lemon curd. Then juice the lemons.
Put the sugar, butter, juice and lemon zest into a double-boiler pot arrangement. You can also use a metal bowl for the top container. It needs to fit over the rim of the pot to be secure. Fill up the lower pot halfway with water and sit the top pot or container in it. Bring the lower pot up to a gentle simmer to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Whisk often to blend the ingredients.
In between whisking, beat the eggs thoroughly, preferably with an electric beater.
Now is the time to call in your friend. Have him or her slowly pour the eggs in a thin steady stream into the hot-but-not-boiling sugar/butter/lemon mixture while you whisk briskly, but not dangerously. Continue to keep the lower pot on a very gentle simmer and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken (this takes approximately 3-7 minutes). Do not let it boil!
Sterilise two 375g jars in the oven (100°C for 15 minutes). Let them cool slightly and then carefully ladle in your hot lemon curd, sealing the jars with clean lids and labelling them once cool.
*Once opened, lemon curd keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.