Lemon Curd: When Life Gives You Lemons

By | January 9, 2014


We had some people over for New Year’s Eve for games and party food and drink. Mr. FB was in charge of creating and mixing drinks.

“Do we have any lemons,” he asked.

“We have some,” I said.

So he went out to buy lemons and came back with a small truckload of big, yellow, juicy lemons. When I saw the bag of lemons, I couldn’t help but think of the notion that, no matter who he is, no matter how much you love or trust him, you just don’t send a man to do a woman’s work.

Maybe we used one of those lemons that night so here it was a week later and we had way too many lying around that were doomed to turn brown and die.

And what do you do when life your husband gives you lemons? You make lemon curd.

Now this is pretty glorious stuff. Especially in January. It’s soft and bright and sunshine yellow.

Lemon curd is the traditional English topping for scones. I am sure Mrs. Patmore (were she a real human being) would have made lemon curd to serve with the scones for afternoon tea at Downton Abbey all the time (were that a real place).

In addition to scones, lemon curd is a lovely topping or filling for cakes, cookies, shortbread, tarts, crumpets, muffins, waffles, pancakes or crepes. And, of course, it is the essence of lemon meringue pie. Berries are another really good accompaniment. Somehow “lovely” is the right word here.

Lemon curd doesn’t keep too long, so don’t hesitate to use it on everything. You can freeze it, but not for long. It won’t spoil, but it will lose its brightness and begin to taste flat.

What You Need to Make Lemon Curd
4 lemons
1½ C sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs
Juice of 3-4 lemons
1/8 t kosher salt

How You Make Lemon Curd
Zest the lemons with a microplane if you one. If not, use a small, sharp knife to remove the zest, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is as fine as the sugar and well blended.

Remove the zest/sugar into a separate bowl.

Cream the butter in the food processor. You can use either a stand or hand mixer here if you prefer, but there is really no need to get another appliance dirty. The food processor will work for all of it. Beat in the zest/sugar mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over the lowest heat you have, whisking constantly, until it thickens (about 10 minutes). Use an instant thermometer to be sure you don’t boil the mixture. You want to bring it up to about 170-180 degrees, at which point it will thicken.

Remove the pan from the heat and cool or refrigerate. I poured it into individual jars for storage, some of which went into the fridge, others that I am freezing for no more than a month or two.

Update: Just had the best breakfast ever: lemon curd with plain yogurt, granola and strawberries!  yum.

Now then, Fellow FoodBeest, I still have a bunch of lemons left. I need your help and I’m turning to you.  What should I do with them? Use the comment section below.

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Arlene Lencioni on January 10, 2014 at 8:35 am.

My sister-in-law always freezes her Lemons and then grates them, peel, pith and all, over everything to give stuff a zippy flavor.


FoodBeest on January 10, 2014 at 8:47 am.

I love that. I didn’t know you could freeze lemons. Do you know if she uses the juice?


Arlene on January 10, 2014 at 9:10 am.

No, she just grates the hard frozen lemon.


Jennifer Shadur on January 13, 2014 at 7:16 am.

I canned (jarred actually…in sweet French glass jars) lemon marmalade once to give as gifts. It was delicious and kept.


Arlene Lencioni on January 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm.

Another idea is preserved lemons. They are very easy to do and you can use them in north African cooking.


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