Lemon Curd Spread

What is your favorite spread for sandwiches or toast? Have you ever tried lemon curd slathered on fresh white bread?

Lemon curd is a wonderfully satisfying spread with its slightly tart lemony flavor (like real old style lemonade), offset by the smooth velvety texture of the butter and eggs from which it is made. In Britain and South Africa it is mostly eaten as a spread, while in the U.S it is more often found filling cakes and tarts. This recipe makes lemon curd of the perfect texture and thickness for spreading.

As it is freshly made with butter and eggs this lemon curd needs to be stored in the refrigerator and eaten up within a month. But I’m sure once you and your family have tasted it that won’t be a problem! This recipe makes enough to store in one large jar, or two small ones.

Recipe for Lemon Curd

2 large lemons
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 eggs, beaten

Collect together: grater, lemon juicer, 1 large jar or 2 small ones, a medium-sized metal or ceramic mixing bowl that fits comfortably on a saucepan or else a double-boiler, or bain-marie.

The lemon curd is cooked in the bowl which sits over a pan of simmering water, to keep the temperature at a steady, not too high heat. The bowl should fit on the top of the pan without touching the water as it boils, and be steady enough, so that it won’t fall off as you stir. Ask an adult to help you set this up. If your Mom cooks a lot she may have a double boiler, which is a special pan with two sections to do exactly this.

Preparation

Before you start, make sure your jars are completely clean. Wash them in warm soapy water, rinse them out and leave to dry. Sterilize them to get rid of any bacteria by putting them when dry into an oven on a baking tray at 200F for 10 minutes. Switch the oven off but leave them there to keep warm, as they should be still hot when you put the lemon curd in after cooking it.

Wash the lemons well. If they are normal store-bought lemons they will have a layer of waxy coating to preserve them. Scrub them in warm soapy water and rinse them to remove the chemicals in this. If you can get hold of organic lemons or live in a state where you can pick un-sprayed lemons straight from the tree then just rinse them briefly and dry them.

Cooking method

1. Finely grate the lemon zest from the lemons into the mixing bowl – you need the outer yellow of the lemon peel without the white pith underneath. Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice.

2. Put the juice without the seeds and pulp into the bowl with the zest and add the sugar and butter.

3. Put the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.

From the next stage on you will need to stir the bowl without stopping for 15 minutes or so, so make sure you’re comfortable and have some music to listen to. Again, if needed, have an adult help with this.

4. Carefully and slowly add the beaten eggs, stirring the lemon mixture all the time. Make sure the water is just simmering gently, otherwise if the heat is too hot the curd can get lumpy.

5. Keep stirring gently over the heat for about 15 minutes, by which time the curd will have thickened to the consistency of a thin custard, or pouring cream. It will get thicker as it cools.

6. Pour it into your clean warm jars. Put the tops on tightly and leave to cool. Once cool store in the refrigerator.

Healthwise, home-made lemon curd is completely free of preservatives and colorings, which is not the case with the commercially prepared ones. The lemon juice is full of Vitamin C and you get some calcium and protein from the butter and eggs. You only eat a little at a time, (unless you like it so much that you eat it with a spoon!), so the richness of the butter and eggs isn’t too much of a problem for those who like counting calories.

Try this spread on bread and taste the difference!

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