This post is updated with new images because the old ones sucked. I’m just keeping it real with you. The growth has been real over here, my friend. In my growth I realize that all those pictures I used to take, which I thought were fly, are garbage. In two years, I’ll probably look back and think the same about these. Growth is a great thing. It’s a humbling thing, but great nonetheless. This Meyer Lemon Curd is always favorite treat of my family’s. I developed this recipe to make a quart and a half of the stuff because I used to get frustrated when it would disappear in a day. If you don’t think you’ll eat as much, feel free to divide it half. Then, let me know how you should’ve made the full amount.
It’s that good.
Why Meyer Lemons?
Well, why not? This recipe is interchangeable- you can certainly use the common Eureka lemon. I like the floral flavor of Meyer lemons, so whenever I see them in the grocery store I grab a bunch. They’re mainly used to make this curd, but they’re great in other recipes where you don’t want/need too much pucker-factor. If you opt to forgo the Meyer lemon version and go with the lemon-lemon version, increase the sugar to one and a quarter cups. I, personally, love for anything labeled “lemon” to hit me in the back of my jaw with tartness. I don’t usually increase the sugar when making it without meyer lemons, but you may want to.
Anywho, the Meyer lemon is just a different variety of lemon. It’s not as tart as Eurekas and has a slight pink tint to its flesh. It almost has an antiseptic aroma to it when cut open. The skin and flesh are milder than the common Eureka, and because of that, I think it’s perfect for making curd from. Eggs, unsalted butter, a pinch of salt, and sugar are all you need to make this sweet-tart spread.
Prepping the Egg Mixture
Before getting to the eggs, I’m going to show the most efficient way to use the lemons. Because you need both the zest and the juice from your lemons, I recommend that you get the zest first. Prior to that, though, roll the lemon between your hand and the countertop to break up the inner fibers that hold the juice in place. This will help you extract the greatest amount of juice from the lemons.
You’ll need more juice than zest, which means you’ll have lemon peels leftover. My favorite way to use these peels is to soak them in quality vodka and make lemon extract with them. You can discard them if you’re not up for brewing, though.
After rolling the lemon, use a microplane to grate off just the yellow part of the lemon’s peel. Don’t go berzerk zesting the lemon down past the white pith. That’s the bitter (unedibly, not lemon-bitter) part of the lemon. If you get too much of the pith into your curd, it’ll taste harshly bitter. Once you’ve zested your three lemons, set them aside.
Best Way to Separate Eggs
I spoke about my favorite way to separate eggs here. Because the palm of your hand has no sharp or jagged eggs (like a broken shell), it’s the best way to separate the yolk from the white. Crack a whole egg into the palm of your hand and allow the white to slip through your partially opened fingers into a bowl. Gently transfer the yolk to a separate bowl and move on to the next egg. You’ll need to separate six yolks from the whites. Leave the two remaining eggs whole- it’s okay to add them to the bowl with the yolk, too.
*Save the six egg whites for recipes like this Berry-Misu or this S’Mores Cheesecake . You can also use them to make your egg white omelets in the morning. For now, though, pack them into a food storage container and set them in the fridge.*
The reason I use a higher ratio of egg yolks to whole eggs, is because I want a really rich yellow curd without having to use artificial colors. This ratio also help the curd to set up thicker than it would without it, but it doesn’t make the curd too eggy.
Mix the Thickener
Adding eggs to most things, and then applying heat, will thicken the mixture. This rule works for most anything. Anytime you’ve eaten pudding, more than likely, you’ve eaten a liquid that has been thickened with eggs. That’s how we’re going to thicken our curd, as well.
A quarter-teaspoon of kosher salt to the eggs, as well as a quarter cup of the lemon zest. You’ll need a medium size bowl (I had to change this one out later, as you’ll see), to accomodate a whisk and more liquid being added later.
Use a whisk to whip the eggs slightly. You want them to be frothy and a slight pale yellow when you’re done.
Heat the Lemon Juice Base
The base of this curd- the soul of it, if you will- is the tart lemony flavor created from thickened lemon juice. That’s all a curd is- lemon juice that has been thickened with that egg mixture we whipped.
Take those zested lemons (and a few more) and cut them all in half using your chef’s knife. Don’t forget to roll each to loosen those fibers!
The easiest way to juice a lemon with its peeled removed is with a citrus juicer. You can use one like this, but the rind may break on you. I juiced seven lemons to get my full cup of juice. You may need more or less, depending on how much juice your lemons hold.
Use a pan with sloped sides to work in. Corners are the enemy when making curds, custards, and sauces. Things tend to get stuck in the crannies and you end up with lumps or uneven sauces. Combine the sugar and the lemon juice together in the pot. Add the pats of butter to the pot as well.
Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the butter has melted and the sugar is dissolved.
Tempering is a MUST!
I’m not being dramatic, either. I think using a thermometer for recipes like this is a waste of time and dishwater. Because of that, the culinary technique of tempering is important to know and learn. The tempering is the process in which the eggs are gradually heated before being added to a hotter ingredient. This prevents them from cooking too fast when introduced to the hot liquid in the saucepan. Adding the eggs directly to the hot liquid would guarantee scrambled eggs, which no one wants here.
To temper the eggs, scoop out a cup of the hot lemon mixture and slowly stream it into the bowl with the eggs- WHISKING CONSTANTLY. Don’t rush this process. I’d rather you go too slow than too fast. Too fast, once again, equals scrambled eggs.
Once the hot mixture has all been added, reverse the process: add the egg mixture to the lemon mixture in the pot sllooooooowwwwllllly. No need to rush this tempering process.
Bring the Mixture to a Gentle Simmer
Another surefire way to end up with lumpy curd is to crank the heat up under the lemon curd after tempering. I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed you, so be sure to keep the temperature low and allow the curd to thicken slowly.
After five or six minutes, the curd will begin to look and feel like thick cream. The bubbles that should be barely breaking the surface should look like the lava in Nat Geo documentaries. Don’t let it boil at all. And whisk (or stir) the entire time.
Once the curd has thickened to the point where it coats the back of a spoon, transfer it to a glass jar, or to a food storage container. Let it cool completely before placing a piece of plastic film directly onto the surface of the curd. Cooling prior to doing this will prevent excess steam from building up and being trapped. The plastic film will prevent a yucky skin from forming on the surface of the curd. You only need to do this when cooling and storing for the first time. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
Store and Enjoy
This curd is tart and sweet in all of the right ways. It keeps well in the fridge for one week. Just be sure not to let it sit out for long periods of time- remember how many eggs it contains. I’ll work on getting other flavors of this to you, but in the meantime, master this Meyer lemon version.
Slather it on your scones, biscuits, or pancakes. Fill your favorite tart or pie shell with it. Top your morning dish of yogurt or fruits with it. Hell! Eat it with a spoon on its own! The uses are endless.
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Meyer Lemon Curd and Filling
- zest of 3 medium meyer lemons (about 1/4 cup) or regular lemons
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs (whole)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, sliced
- In a mixing bowl, combine the lemon zest, egg yolks, whole eggs, and salt. Beat the mixture until frothy and set aside.
- Over medium heat in a large saucepan with sloping sides, whisk together the sugar and lemon juice. Add the butter slices and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the butter has melted (about 5 minutes).
- Using a measuring cup or a ladle, remove about a cup of the hot lemon juice mixture from the pot and slowly stream it into the egg yolks, stirring constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Once all of the hot liquid has been added to the eggs, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
- Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, for 5-7 minutes, stirring the entire time. Remove the pot from the heat once the mixture thickens and lava-like bubbles start to break the surface.
- Allow the curd to cool for 10 minutes before transferring it to a clean storage container or glass jar.*
- Place a piece of plastic film directly on the surface of the curd, prior to covering, to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.
- Cover and refrigerate until completely cold. This curd will keep, refrigerated, for 5 days. Use it to spread on baked breads, to fill baked good, or to top fruits and yogurt.**
Check out these other great spreads: