Spice Rack Challenge: Citrus
February 12, 2011 6 Comments
A few weeks ago I tweeted that I was making Florida Citrus Curd. I had friends who brought me back gifts from Florida – questionably legally – in citrus form. Unfortunately, the recipe I followed didn’t turn out. Long story short – the giant batch turned out eggy. I don’t know about you but eggs and grapefruit is not one of my preferred flavor combinations. I haven’t found a way to make it work, despite advice from Foodpicklers I don’t think it can be saved.
Never one to give up easily, I trekked to the nearest Whole Foods to grab some Meyer Lemons. It seems like you blink and you miss their “season” up here in the frigid North. I really just need to make friends with someone who has a tree. Or figure out how to do it here indoors. Someday. Until then, I will resort to a small amount of decidedly not local citrus to import some sunshine to snowy Connecticut.
3 large eggs This time I used only yolks
8 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups lemon juice (four lemons worth)
zest of four lemons
1/2 stick of butter, cubed
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
You need to do this in a double boiler so the curd cooks slowly and doesn’t curdle. If you are constructing a double boiler for the first time, before you turn it on make sure the metal bowl fits in the pot without touching the water. Only the steam should be able to touch the bowl. Make sure that the bowl is metal. In a pinch I used a glass bowl once – only to have it crack. Metal only – trust me. I also used a wok ring to stabilize the bowl.
Bring the double boiler on the stove up to a boil, then down to a simmer. While the water is heating, separate your eggs. I used eight eggs because thats what I had, but in hindsight think its a good amount.
Mix your egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice together and put on double boiler. You need to keep stirring until the mixture reaches approximately 180 degrees and is thick and rich – taking approximately 20 minutes or so. I alternate between a whisk in the beginning to a silicone spatula at the end to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure the sugar is incorporated.
Once it starts to thicken, start to add the butter in small chunks. I used Kerrygold butter – which seems to make the yellow mixture even more golden. Maybe its all in my head, but that butter is CRAZY delicious. I would have used my favorite local butter, but I was unfortunately all out. Kerrygold – though again not local – really is the next best thing.
Once all the butter is incorporated, cook for another minute or so. How to tell its done? Its thick enough to do this:
Just try to get this shot while holding with your right hand, shooting with your left, and trying to do it quickly to keep stirring! Sometimes it takes some talent.
Cooking it slowly (over a long period of time) and gently (with a double boiler) is to ensure that you end up with a luscious, smooth curd. One way to make sure the curd is perfectly smooth is to pass it through a strainer with a silicone spatula to get every last ounce.
After you pass it through a strainer, then add the lemon zest. Don’t do what I did the first time and add the zest before the straining – because, quite obviously, you’ll strain out the zest too. Serious facepalm on that one.
Yield: 2 half-pints. For me – two to freeze, because I had a bowl to lick clean. They both went into the freezer for future use – but I might have to make some more soon. I also had some juice leftover – which went into a post-work amaretto sour of perfection. You can water bath curds – but due to the butter they have a much shorter shelf life (a few months) than traditional water bathed products (a year). For more info, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation guidelines.
1. Use a different citrus. I think grapefruit would be lovely, but you may need to add more sugar to make it work. Oranges don’t work, though – as they lack something (acid?) to make the curd set.
2. Use a different fruit all together. I’ve used raspberries before a la Eat the Love.
3. Use the final product on toast, in yogurt, with oatmeal… lots of breakfast possibilities.
4. Make a large batch and use it in between layers of cake. Add a little into buttercream, top with zest – I think a lemon cake might be calling my name!