Citrus is at it's finest in the depths of winter, a welcome blast of tart, bright edible sunshine. Here is Southern California we are lucky (ahem, spoiled) to have access to a dizzying variety of locally grown produce throughout the year, but even here in this coastal paradise, we too must follow the seasons when it comes to Meyer Lemons & Blood Oranges. These elusive winter gems seem to pop-up overnight and disappear just as quickly.
Gather a bag (or two) of these fine fruits while they are still abundant and make yourself a winter treat: Meyer Lemon Curd & Blood Orange Curd. Dolloped onto yogurt, spooned directly into happy mouths, baked into bars, meringue pies or tarts, poured over pavlovas... the possibilities go on and on.
Point being, you want this, you need this, so let's get cooking shall we?
Cooking notes & recommended equipment:
To quote the expert, Rose Levy Beranbaum, "fruit curd is actually a custard that depends on the high acidity of the fruit, in combination with egg yolks and butter, to achieve its gloriously silken texture without the addition of a starch thickener. This results in an utterly uncompromised purity of liltingly bright flavor." I couldn't have said it better, or with more flourish!
It is also worth noting that different fruits have varied flavor intensities and acidity, thus requiring more or less sugar and hence, two distinct recipes for the different winter citrus curds.
Please save the extra egg whites for another recipe! Mini-Pavlovas & Meringue Tarts are the perfect pairing for these winter citrus curds and are a great way to use up extra egg whites. Recipes will be posted here soon!
- If possible, use a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan, such as stainless steel or enamel coated. Do not use Aluminum pans for this recipe as the metal will react to the acids in the fruit. Nonreactive pans help to ensure heat is evenly distributed and avoids the possibility of discolored pans or metallic taste in the curd.
- Wooden spoon is best for stirring (avoid metal on metal) and testing the thickness of the curd while cooking.
- Mason jars or other airtight glass containers for storing the finished curd. As pictured above, I used wide-mouth canning jars, but any airtight glass container would work nicely.
Meyer Lemon Curd
Makes about 2 cups
Notes: In this recipe you may use regular lemons in place of Meyer lemons, simply increase sugar to a total of 1 2/3 cups to offset the higher acidity and tartness.
- 9 Large Egg Yolks (or 1/2 cup)
- 1 1/4 cups (or 9 ounces) Granulated Sugar
- 6.5 ounces Meyer Lemon Juice
- 8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, diced into large pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 4 teaspoons Meyer Lemon Zest
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly blended. Add the Meyer lemon juice, butter, and salt, and stir well to combine. Continue stirring constantly and keep the mixture at a very gentle simmer. Do not allow the mixture to boil otherwise it may curdle. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until thickened. When thickened sufficiently, curd should thickly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pour the curd through a fine-mesh strainer (optional step, to ensure smooth curd) and into a glass jar or other container. Use a wooden spoon to press the curd through the mesh. Stir in the lemon zest. Allow to cool, then cover and keep chilled in the refrigerator until needed.
Blood Orange Curd
Makes about 1 cup
Notes: Blood Oranges are absolutely delicious but have a less intense flavor compared to lemons. Reducing the juice will concentrate and intensify the flavor, a step I strongly encourage you to follow for best results. Also, darker colored skin of blood oranges indicates darker fruit within. Depending on the flesh of your blood oranges the finished curd may vary in color from deep rose to purple.
- 1 cup Blood Orange Juice, reduced to 1/2 cup (see below)
- 5 Large Egg Yolks (or 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, diced into large pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons Meyer Lemon Zest
Place 1 cup of fresh Blood Orange juice into a heat-proof cup, be sure to use a container than is at least twice the capacity as the juice (i.e. 2-cup measuring cup). Microwave for about 10 to 15 minutes to reduce the juice by half. Check periodically to be sure it dose not over-concentrate or boil over.
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly blended. Add the concentrated blood orange juice, butter, and salt, and stir well to combine. Continue stirring constantly and keep the mixture at a very gentle simmer. Do not allow the mixture to boil otherwise it may curdle. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until thickened. When thickened sufficiently, curd should thickly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pour the curd through a strainer (optional step to ensure smooth curd) and directly into a glass storage container. Stir in the blood orange zest. Allow to cool, then cover and keep chilled in the refrigerator until needed.
Loosely adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible