Lemon Curd - New and Improved!

Don't be turned off by the word "curd" - it doesn't sound too appealing, particularly for a concoction as heavenly as this. Curd is a traditional British spread, most often made from lemons but sometimes from other citrus fruit. It is thick, soft and creamy, with a great tartness mixed with sweet. Since my Florida friends Dee & Len supplied me with fabulous organic lemons from their own tree, I've been making lots of lemon recipes. The fresh lemon juice has been wonderful for many of my favorite recipes, like my Caesar Salad Dressing and Scampi recipes. When my nephew visited I surprised him with one of his favorite desserts my mother used to bake for him, Lemon Bars. (I'm still working on a healthy version for a future post).

I decided to make Lemon Curd, remembering its wonderful taste when we had some on scones at Afternoon Tea on a long-ago visit to England. My recipe search revealed it is most often made with butter, white sugar, eggs and the lemon ingredients, all cooked together to make the mixture thick. I have nothing against butter - in small doses - but I substitute here with nutritious coconut oil. Eliminating the sugar was a no-brainer for me, and raw local honey works fine to sweeten the curd. Some recipes I read used whole eggs, others the yolks only; the explanation is that yolks and whites cook at different temperatures, sometimes making the curd lumpy and needing to be strained. Since I get fresh eggs from my friends, I wanted to use the whole egg, and I discovered a tip from another blogger to avoid lumps:  slowly beat all the ingredients together before heating the mixture. And it worked - no lumps and no straining required. Just a melt-in-your mouth sweet/tart flavor with little specs of flavorful rind.

So now I've made several batches of Lemon Curd. Yesterday I decided to double the recipe and combine equal parts of lemon and orange, since I had one big organic orange in the fridge that needed to be used. I served the Orange and Lemon Curd to guests at a dinner for 10, as a topping for fresh fruit, and got lots of positive comments. I look forward to trying Key Lime Curd sometime. You can use Lemon Curd as a spread like jam on toast, muffins, or scones; mixed into plain yogurt; as a topping for fruit or ice cream; swirled into cheesecake; as a filling for tiny tarts; as a spread between cake layers… or eat it as I sometimes do, right off a spoon!

I've grated and juiced the rest of my lemon stash, freezing what I haven't used right away, so watch for other lemon recipes in future posts. This Lemon Curd recipe takes a wee bit of time, as my Scottish friend Maggie might say, so now I've got the lemon parts pre-done. Incidentally, it's best to use organic citrus, especially when you are using the rind, since many of the toxins from chemicals reside in the peel of sprayed fruit.

Lemon Curd

Recipe type: Topping
Cuisine: Gluten Free, dairy free, vegetarian
Makes: 1-1/2 cups
NOTE: Ingredients in red type are detailed on the "Ingredients" page of this blog

    1/2 c of coconut oil, softened or melted
    1/4 cup of honey
    3 eggs
    1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained and pulp used elsewhere

Using a food processor or mixer, beat the coconut oil with the honey until well combined. Slowly add each egg while continuing to whip until frothy. Gradually mix in the zest and juice and beat well.

Put the mixture into a saucepan over medium/low heat. I like to use a spatula. stirring constantly as the mixture thickens. Be sure to scrape along the bottom of the pan so the mixture doesn't burn and do not allow it to boil. The thickening happens pretty fast; when you can leave a clean path on the spatula when you wipe your finger on it, remove from heat. The curd will thicken at 170°F, and will get thicker as it cools.

Refrigerate for several hours to thicken. Will keep about one week or longer in the refrigerator. Freezes well.