Chicken Coop Chatter©
Lemons are in season now. Did you know that Lemons and other citrus are actually winter bearing fruit? Sounds a bit odd, since we think of lemonade and other uses for lemon in the warmer summer months, but this time of year is the best time to purchase them for making all your favorite lemon treats. One treat in particular that has many uses is *Lemon Curd*. Lemon Curd can be used to enhance other desserts such as a plain pound cake or white cake, or angel food cake. Top a plain cookie or how about piping into a cream puff, making a *lemon cream puff* or use on pancakes and waffles in place of jam or syrup. There are many options and once you've made it, well, you'll find all kinds of uses for it even if it's just on a slice of toast, a biscuit or scone. Lemon Curd is so easy to make and eggs give it a nice creamy, thick texture to use in no-bake Lemon tarts. All you need is some fresh lemons for juice, some home-grown eggs, sugar and butter, things you would likely already have on hand winter or summer. And the lemon curd makes great last minute gift items year round.
A lemon treat that dates back to 1796 was called Lemon Cream. This can be found in one of the earliest American Cookbooks entitled, the *American Cookery* by Amelia Simmons. Lemon Cream was made much like Lemon Curd, however it used 6 egg whites and just one whole egg, with the addition of water. The rind of a whole lemon was cooked right with the Lemon cream to enhance the flavor. The recipe recommended serving the Lemon Cream in a China Bowl.
Puddings or custard date back to ancient times, however they differ greatly from those early days. Puddings at that time were basically meat based not fruit based. Most pudding type recipes were boiled in a dough base until the ingredients were soft. In the mid 1800s a pudding base was created that no longer required the emulsifying and thickening quality of eggs, and came in a powdered form of corn starch as the thickening agent. It wasn't until then that pudding as we know it today became popular. The boiled puddings are still traditional in European countries around Christmastide.
Just as a side note, you can grow your own lemons as a houseplant if you do not live in a temperate climate and they can be grown from the seeds of your favorite lemons. Just remove the seeds from the lemon, remove the extra pulp and poke into a quality damp potting soil while the seed is still moist. Cover the container with plastic wrap until the first sign of sprouting. Remove the plastic wrap when the plant begins to emerge from the soil. It takes about 4-6 weeks for those seeds to germinate, but they make a nice house plant when they emerge from the soil. Keep the plant in a sunny south facing window in damp soil, with good drainage. (never soggy soil). The same instructions apply to other citrus fruits. I've grown lemon and mandarin oranges as well as regular oranges with success. You'll want a deep pot, to allow room for the roots and you will need to transplant your tree periodically as it outgrows the pot. When transplanting you'll want a container just a size or two larger with each transplant to prevent shock. Citrus is easy to grow and a fun project for the kidlets and the seeds are free inside your purchased fruit.
You do not have to be limited to *Lemon* for the curd, other fruits that work well for fruit curd are cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, mango and passion fruit. The other citrus varieties can be used as well, such as tangerine, orange and lime. You may want to try a variety of different curd flavors or make gifts in a variety of flavors. If purchased, Lemon Curd is fairly expensive, with less than 12 oz. jar averaging about $9.00. You can make yours for a couple of dollars and less than a half hour of time, with nothing more than pure ingredients found in your own kitchen. Since homemade Curd has a short shelf life, you will only want to make it in quantities you can use within a week. If making for gifts be sure to tell the recipient that it must be refrigerated and used within a week, or frozen and used within a couple of months.
Chicken Coop Chatter©
Lemon juice from 2-3 Large lemons (at room temperature)
Lemon zest (optional)
1/2 C. Sugar (or to taste)
pinch fine sea salt
5- large eggs (Separate 2 of the large egg yolks from the whites)
6 T. butter (grated)
Zest the lemons (reserve the zest). Squeeze the lemons to extract the juice (roll the lemon to soften; room temperature is easier to extract all the available juice). With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and yolks thoroughly until light and fluffy. Pour the sugar and butter into a medium saucepan. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and two yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Beat in the egg whites. Pour the lemon juice, and zest into the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Bring to a simmer. Continue to heat another 5 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, stirring frequently. Continue to heat the mixture until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. If the heat is too high, the results will be less desirable and may cook the eggs rather than allowing them to blend into a smooth custardy consistency. The curd will cling to the back of a spoon without dripping when it is thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a minute or two then pour into sterilized mason jars or a decorative dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When thoroughly chilled, keep refrigerated or use in your favorite citrus pastries, the curd can be frozen in freezer safe containers. Thaw thoroughly before using in recipes for the best result.
The curd makes a great last minute gift, so I usually have decorative mason jars handy and fill those, cover, then chill. To decorate, cut fabric or plain brown paper bag in a circle at least an inch larger than the top of your gift container. Tie with ribbon or jute twine. Label along with suggestions for use. The lemon curd when refrigerated will keep at least two weeks.
NOTE: The zest is optional, but even if you do not use it in the recipe, be sure to zest your citrus, dry the peel and store in air-tight spice containers to use for other recipes that call for zest. You will save a lot of money by making your own zest and drying it. It's easy to do and takes just a few minutes. I have a spice jar for lime, lemon and orange zest in my pantry to use in recipes or just to sprinkle a bit on my finished baked goods, vegetables or even meats to add a bit of color and texture.
I did not add the zest to the curd, but I did sprinkle some on top of the curd after I placed it in decorative gift containers, to give it a special gourmet appearance. If the recipient does not like zest, they can simply scoop it off the top. The dollar store is a great source for small decorative glass containers or the decorative Mason jars work as well.
NOTE: If using commercial juice, 1 large lemon yields approximately 3-4 T. of juice or 1/4 cup. Winter lemons are larger than summer lemons, but tend to be a bit dryer, so even a smaller lemon in summer may yield more juice than a larger winter lemon. Just use this information as a guide when using prepared juices versus fresh squeezed juice, and adjust to taste as needed. If your lemons are not as flavorful as you would prefer, add a teaspoon of Lemon extract.
Suggested Uses: Lemon Curd can be used as a spread on scones and biscuits or toast. The Curd can also be used as a filling for donuts or tarts. Though it may resemble Lemon Pie filling, it is not generally used as pie filling and is made entirely different.
NOTE: Be sure to reserve the peels for my Coop and Household Citrus Cleaner:
For My No-Bake Lemon Tarts follow the link: http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/sweets-treats-and-drinks/no-bake-lemon-curd-tarts
To make your own lemon extract refer to my recipe at the following link: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/seasoning-and-sauces/citrus-extract
Chicken Coop Chatter© All Rights Reserved 2011-2017