Until I began tuning into seasonal food, I thought of citrus as a summery flavor, but lots of citrus fruit actually hits peak season in the winter. Meyer lemons, for example, start popping up right about now. The fruit, a cross between regular lemons and mandarins, have a sweeter tartness making them perfect for desserts. That said, regular lemons, which are also great this time of year, work beautifully in desserts as well. And this lemon curd is proof—it’s delicious no matter what kind of lemons you use.
If you haven’t ever eaten curd before, you're missing out! It like a cross between jelly and custard that can be swirled into yogurt, spread on toast, stuffed into crepes or, better yet, cupcakes, baked in a tart or rolled into sweet bread dough before baking.
Making curd requires a careful eye, but is quite easy. You beat a few ingredients together and then cook it over very low heat. You can easily infuse curd (with thyme, cinnamon sticks, orange peel) simply by dropping the infusing ingredient of choice in your pot while the curd cooks.
If you make curd to give as a gift, be sure to go through a canning process. It’s best to jar curd in half-pint jars, a perfect gift size. If you do that, process the jars in boiling water according to canning standards for 20 minutes. Be sure to read up on the proper, complete steps for canning, as the amount of water in your processing pot, jar size and processing time can all vary.
Gingered Lemon Curd
Makes about 1 cup
1. Cream together sugar, butter and zest. Add eggs, one at a time, and then lemon juice. Continue mixing until combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, add the ginger and cook over low heat until thickened, whisking constantly. Never allow the curd to get hot—it should stay warm, as it will thicken just below a simmer. The curd is done cooking when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This may take as long as 10 minutes.
3. Remove curd from heat and strain through a fine meshed sieve into a glass container. Allow it to cool before sealing. Once cool and in an airtight container, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or continue on to a canning process.