Alright, this is a rare thing that most people in America have no idea about, but my family LOVES it. Pretty much everyone I have talked to has had a lemon bar/lemon square so they have eaten lemon curd before, but they have never known what it was, just this delicious lemon stuff on top of a shortbread crust. But it has much more potential than just for that.
Last week Bountiful Baskets had an add-on of a 38 lb box of lemons for $21. I suggested to my mom that we split the box and make some lemon curd which is one of her favorite toppings for toast. Or make lemonade concentrate, or just frozen lemon juice in ice cube trays for later use, or pie or whatever we wanted. She said that was a good idea and today we got my sister to join us for a day full of canning a bunch of lemon curd. Mom also did a few ice cube trays of lemon juice, and some candied lemon peel for later use. All in all it was a pretty successful day.
So, anyway, back to the original subject, our recipe of the day. Lemon curd is a custard like lemon jam. It's spreadable gold in my book, delicious on toast, pancakes, waffles, gingerbread, scones, english muffins, or even as a filling for lemon cake (or cupcakes for that matter). It's also commonly used in baked form on lemon bars as mentioned before. The only difference between the lemon bars and the curd in the jar is that you just mix everything together and pour it over the crust and it bakes in the oven for the bars, and for the jarred stuff you cook it on the stove til it thickens and then pour it into canning jars and then process it to seal the lids. So imagine lemon bars flavoring on your toast in the morning. Yup, you got it, it's DELICIOUS!
Here's how you make it. We tripled the batches to make it go faster, and made about 26 jars for the 3 of us to split up and take home. Trust me, you'll want the triple batch, it makes about 5 jars and it's worth the work.
juice and zest of 9 lemons (about 3 cups juice)
3 sticks of butter
1 pinch salt
3 cups of sugar
9 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
Zest your lemons with a microplane or fine grater or citrus zester. Then roll lemons on the counter to loosen the juice inside, and cut them in half to juice them. This is where an electric citrus juicer comes in very handy because it really makes things go faster. My mom has a juicer attachment for her Kitchen Aid and we just hooked it up and it made it go really fast. You'll want to use a sieve over whatever bowl or measuring cup you use for the juice (we used one of those Pyrex measuring pitchers) so it catches the pulp and seeds. Once you have gotten all of the lemon halves juiced, measure to make sure its roughly 3 cups of juice, then add your zest to the juice. Set aside.
In a double boiler, or a pot of water with a heat proof bowl over top of it, melt the butter. Add sugar and salt and stir together, and then add lemon juice and zest. Whisk over medium low heat til sugar is dissolved and mixture is heated through.
Separate your eggs (the first 9) and whisk the yolks with the 3 whole eggs til they are lemony in color and uniform. When the lemon mixture is dissolved and heated through, add approximately 1 cup of the lemon sugar mix to the eggs and whisk vigorously while slowly pouring in the lemon mixture. Once the eggs and lemon juice are together, and mixed well, add the whole thing back to the lemon juice and sugar on the stove, and continue to cook and stir for about 15 minutes til the mixture thickens to the consistency of honey and it looks glossy.
Take your canning jars out of your canner (a large pot that processes canning jars) and carefully ladle the curd into half pint jars and then top the jar with a lid and ring and screw on tight, and then flip it over onto a towel on the counter or table to seal. Let stand for about an hour til the lid is sealed tight (when you press the center it shouldnt go down or make a clicking sound). Store in a cool place for up to 2 years.
Spread on toast, english muffins, cake, banana bread, brownies, shortbread cookies, whatever you want. You could pipe it into the center of cupcakes too if you want. Or on pound cake or gingerbread cake. Delicious!
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