Meyer Lemon Curd
• 7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs (I never said it was healthy)
• 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
• ⅔ cup juice plus ¼ cup finely grated zest from 3 to 4 Meyer lemons
• Pinch salt
• 4 tbsp (4 oz, or ½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
• 3 tbsp heavy cream
1. In a medium stainless steel bowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add in the sugar and whisk, about 5 seconds. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt: whisk until combined, about 5 seconds (see a pattern?).
2. Transfer the mixture to a medium nonreactive saucepan. Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd thickens to a thickened, sauce-like consistency and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5-8 minutes.
3. Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean stainless steel bowl. The curd is thick and will not just rush through the strainer, so pour slowly. You’ll need to press down on the solids in the strainer; I usually stir gently, scraping the sides of the strainer and folding the curd over on itself, to keep it moving. Stir in the heavy cream.
4. At this point, you need to consider storage options. If you’re going to use this right away, just a bowl covered in plastic wrap or some Tupperware will suffice. If not, I suggest canning. That’s a whole other topic, one that’s best left to a canning expert. But briefly, if A) you’re planning on using the curd within a week or two, and B) it’s warm enough when you pour it into jars and seal, the residual heat should be enough to create a partial vacuum and keep the jars sealed. If that concerns you, or you’re planning on long-term storage, you’ll have to go the conventional boiling-water canning method. Again, find a good reputable source for canning instructions.
This stuff is almost impossibly bright in flavor and in color. Unlike a regular lemon (also known as Eureka lemons), the Meyer lemon is a natural hybrid of a lemon and a sweet orange, so it’s got a very thin, very aromatic rind, almost no pith, and lots of low-acid juice. Therefore, Meyers make a really sweet lemon curd, and between the eggs and the butter, this stuff is bright yellow, like the sun in a Van Gogh painting. It’s got the consistency of whipped butter, both thick and creamy and light and spreadable.
The key here when making any sort of egg-based custard (which is what this is), is to cook it over low heat and stir constantly. You jack the heat to high because you want to go faster, and before you know it, you’ve got scrambled eggs. Low and slow – that’s how you do it. Like BBQ. Low heat allows the eggs to thicken gently. The eggs are going to come up to temperature, so if done properly, you really don’t need to have any worry about bacteria.
DO NOT SKIP THE STRAINING. You need to get all the grated lemon zest out. It doesn’t break down, so if left in, it’ll make the curd have a mealy, gritty mouthfeel. Along with the zest, straining the curd will also filter out the odd bit of scrambled egg that might have made it through.
I think there’s no better use for this slathered on a warm cream scone. Or, you know, straight out of the jar with a spoon. That said, a lemon tart is also a great way to serve this. You’ll want to have a par-baked pastry crust in a tart pan ready to go on a rimmed baking sheet, and an oven at 375° F. If you haven’t just baked the tart shell, pop it in the oven to warm up while you make the curd. After making the curd, straining, and stirring in the cream, pour the curd directly into the warm tart shell then get it straight into the oven. Let it bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the curd around the outer rim of the tart pan has set, but the inner three-inch circle is still jiggly. Cool it all the way down to room temperature; the curd will set up completely and you can de-pan and serve.
If you’re going to do use this curd for a lemon tart, you’ll want to make the curd right before you’re ready to bake it. Letting the curd cool down, and then trying to spread it into the tart pan and bake will result in a lumpy, grainy filling.
As far as storage goes, I like to can this – you’ll probably get about 20 oz total from one batch. I like the small half-pint jars. They’re great for gifts – you can give everyone a little taste. Of course, when I can this stuff for myself, I use the larger 8 oz jars. Because 4 oz is simply not enough for me.
Pairs Well With
I like to make this throughout the year, whenever I have access to Meyer Lemons. We’re spoiled in Southern California; we have access to really great fresh, local produce, lots of varieties, etc… Meyers are usually available to us in November through May, though the seasons can fluctuate wildly. However, if you’re into canning, as you should be, then you can make this any time of the year and have them handy for gifts.