Lemon curd, homemade, is light-years in flavour away from the bought variety. First, you can control the sugar content, and second, you can use fresh zest and juice, which are a pure and simple delight for the taste buds.
In Malta, at this time of year, the first of the new lemon crop are ripening. I’ve just received a bag of ‘gifted’ lemons over the garden wall from the neighbour’s orchard. I don’t even need to rub the skins to smell the zest. I think this lot deserve a lemon curd so I can savour them rather than just add them to some other dish. I take great pleasure making it knowing the lemons were on the tree half an hour earlier.
I’ve noticed a trend lately for leading supermarket brands and delis, in the UK at least, to promote ‘Sicilian lemon curd’ or lemonade. What is it about Sicily that makes lemons seem more appealing? Capri, Sorrento or Amalfi coast ones or those of Menton, France, are more famed. But Sicily perhaps has a nice earthy ring to it; a place less visited, less chic, more the garden of Italy it was known as in Roman times. A place secretly harbouring lemon groves basking in the baking sun (in fact, more sun, means thicker skins and less juice, if the trees haven’t been watered all summer). Anyway, I thought, since we’re near to Sicily, and even more southerly, Maltese lemon curd has to have cache’ too! At least in my kitchen…
Lemon curd is a kiddy treat. Full of nostalgia for birthday and Sunday teas. It would also be a surprise extra when my mum had a little pastry left over from a pie and rolled out a few discs to make up into lemon curd and raspberry jam ‘traffic light’ tarts. These days, using, let alone making lemon curd must be a rarity. But the jar or two I made disappeared very, very fast! Tarts aside, I made some adult dinner party desserts (recipe will be posted up at the turn of the month) and filled a basic sponge cake. Then, there was lemon curd on wholemeal toast as a midnight snack and again for breakfast (sugar, I know!). But I can see myself making up a good few more batches before the end of winter!
- 5 large eggs, whisked up
- 180g caster sugar
- 180ml cream (single is fine)
- zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons, rinsed clean
- Place all ingredients together in a solid-based, wide-brim pan.
- Bring the mixture slowly to a gentle simmer, whisking all the time, and also scraping the sides from time to time with a heat-resistant spatula (it is important you heat gently so the sugar melts slowly rather than burns to the bottom).
- Carry on whisking and stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon and is not running off quickly. It should be like a medium-thick custard at this stage.
- Turn off heat and allow to cool a little, but not so it forms a skin.
- After around 3-5 mins, pour the mixture into sterilised glass or pottery jars, and seal. (Sterilise your glass jars by washing and rinsing thoroughly in hot water and then place in the oven, upside down on a rack for 10 mins at 130°C.).
- Allow to cool before putting in the fridge.
All images © Liz Ayling 2012