Lemon curd

Last week I mentioned lemon curd in my Labour of love post and one comment poster asked for a good recipe.

I’ve tried a few versions in the past – some come out fairly runny, some very thick. They all taste good but the texture and richness varies quite widely depending on the amount of butter and also egg yolks (some recipes use whole eggs some use a mix and some use only yolks). So there’s quite a lot of choices in picking a recipe.

I’m going to give you two recipes here – one for a good staple curd – not too runny not too rich and one very rich one.

First the good staple which comes from Hilare Walden’s Sensational Preserves book (with various of my comments added). I’ve made it a number of times always with great success.

You’ll need:


4 lemons (organic unwaxed for preference – the unwaxed bit is important, you’re going to be using the zest of the lemon and if its been waxed you’re going to have to scrub vigorously in hot soapy water and rinse before you can use them – what a chore)
4oz (115g) of unsalted butter
10oz (300g) of caster sugar – I like Billingtons Organic Unrefined Caster Sugar
4 medium size eggs
A heatproof bowl – e.g. a Pyrex mixing bowl
A saucepan that the bowl fits on but not in 

Grate the lemon zest – being careful not to end up with too much of the white (and bitter) pith and then juice the lemons. Put zest and juice in the bowl. Add the butter cut into about 1cm dice and the sugar.


Put around an inch of boiling water in the pan and then balance the bowl over the pan (the bottom of the bowl mustn’t touch the water) – this is called a ‘double boiler’ in case you see that phrase mentioned elsewhere. Keep the water just at simmering point and stir the mixture in the bowl as it dissolves.

Beat the eggs lightly and then add them to the mixture (most recipes tell you to strain the egg mix but I don’t think this is really necessary). And keep on stirring. For as long as it takes for the curd to thicken which might be anything from 15 to almost 40 minutes (dependent mainly on the amount of lemon juice, I think). Make sure the curd doesn’t get too hot and keep on stirring especially as it gets thicker or you’ll end up with curdled curd – not a good result.

Pour into warm, clean dry jars – straight from the dishwasher is a good way to achieve this and seal with wax paper disks if you have them and a lid. Putting the lid on while its all still warm helps create a vacuum and so the contents last for longer.

Store somewhere cool and dark and in the fridge once opened. It’ll last 2-3 weeks once opened – well it will if it doesn’t all get eaten before then. Makes about 1 ½ lb (a normal jam jar fits roughly 1lb). 

The richer (and it really is much richer almost too rich except in small quantities) comes from Gary Rhodes’ Complete Rhodes around Britain. It uses essentially the same technique but the ingredients are heavily weighted to butter and egg yolks. In fact it’s the kind of recipe where you need to have thought through what you are going to be doing with all the egg whites you end up with (e.g. make meringues).

You need:


3 lemons, 8oz (225g) unsalted butter (I told you it was rich), 8oz (225g) caster sugar and 5 (yes that FIVE) egg yolks. Proceed as above but spread more thinly when applying to toast. 

I’d recommend you try the Walden recipe first and then the Gary Rhodes if you fancy a rich lemony blow out experience at a later date. And if you think all that stirring is too much then try an upmarket ready made lemon curd – I most recently had the Duchy Originals one – very tasty, almost good enough to tempt you to scoop it out and put in your own labelled jar to pass off as your own ?

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