Monday, November 8, 2010

Rainy Day Lemon Curd

It was the first rain of the season, and we were not yet in all-weather mode.

Our Homesteading Circle was meeting for foraging, but we were more in a sleepy, warm, let's-stay-inside mode. It was a perfect day for making lemon curd. Luckily, we had already foraged Meyer Lemons, when it was still sunny and warm. 

A few weeks before, Wendy and I had been in pursuit of avocados, checking on several trees on the foraging map.  The avocados weren't ripe, but as we drove back, we passed a tall apple tree with bright red apples hanging over the fence.  We both saw it at the same time, looked at each other, and she put on the brakes. The apples looked like they were at the perfect stage of ripeness, and from the amount already on the ground, it didn't appear that the homeowner wanted them. 

Wendy knocked on the front door, with her baby on her back - the presence of the baby always seems to inspire goodwill. They were more than happy for us to harvest the apples for them, and invited us into the backyard with our fruit picker.  They mentioned, offhand, that there was a lemon tree back there as well, and we could help ourselves to it. 

When we saw the lemon tree, I felt like we hit the jackpot – they were Meyers!  They were in a range of sizes, from the size of a fist to the size of melons.  We picked a full bag of the Meyer lemons, and several bags of lovely red apples.

Lemon Curd

This recipe is especially fragrant if you use Meyer Lemons, but will work with any lemons.  It takes an indecent amount of butter and eggs (yolks only), and requires a double boiler, but don't be deterred. It's amazing - so worth it. The result is bright yellow, a decadent ray of sunlight on a rainy day.  It will make 2 pints.

10 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
8 lemons, zested
2/3 c. lemon juice
2 sticks butter, cut into pats and placed in freezer until ready.

Add about 1 inch of water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth (about 1 minute) in a medium size metal bowl that will fit over the saucepan.  Add juice and the zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of pan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next (we cheated a bit on this instruction, and it turned out just fine). Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown