Home is not home without a lemon tree. Fact. It is my favorite gift for a house warming. Everyone I love should have at least one growing in their garden. If you are renting and don’t want to leave any plants behind when you move, then plant the Meyer variety in a large pot and take it with you! It is the one variety that does very well in pots. They are such fabulous trees – their blossoms smell heavenly, their leaves are delicious in cooking, but the prize is obviously the lemons. They are a gift from all that is Good and Generous and Merciful! Use the juice as medicine, just mix some up with raw honey and take to soothe a sore throat; combine that with some ginger, hot water and a splash of brandy or whisky and you have a potent hot toddy. Squeeze the juice generously when cooking almost anything, pop the whole, half or squeezed fruit into the cavity of a roast chicken along with a sprig of rosemary and some garlic – simple and delish! The zest is probably the highlight – full of intoxicating oils, it adds an incredible aroma to food without the acidity.
Good, homemade lemon curd is a joy and a decadent delight. It is quintessentially old fashioned and I love it all the more for it! I could not think of a better way to put winter’s bounty to good use than making a batch of this. Keep it for a lemon meringue pie or some fancy danishes, as a topping for scones, put a spoonful into some natural Mooberry Greek yogurt , or just spread it on your morning toast – you won’t be sorry. Personally, I have no problem attacking a jar with a teaspoon, but that’s me – the shameless glutton. This is chockablock with so much goodness that one must forgive and indeed sometimes encourage a little gluttony. As with all my cooking, I ask that you tinker. All lemons are not created equal, nor are all palates, so adjust according to what you’re working with. I have added quite a lot of zest, because that’s the way I like it, but reduce it if you prefer.
1kg lemons – finely zest at least half the lemons before squeezing them all.
12 eggs (beaten)
500g unsalted butter (cubed)
4 sterilised jam jars
Remember to wash your lemons if they are not naturally grown – commercial ones are waxed. Pour your lemon juice through a sieve and set aside. Pour your beaten eggs trough the sieve and set aside. Now put a pot of water on a medium–high heat and place a large bowl on top, not touching the water. Keep a whisk at hand for emergencies. Put the cubed butter, sugar, zest and juice into the bowl and stir gently with a wooden spoon until melted and well blended. Now turn the heat down low and add the eggs, stirring continuously. You don’t want lemon scrambled eggs, so take care and watch your mixture like a hawk. If it seems in the slightest danger of splitting, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk like mad until it looks good again, then turn your heat down a little before returning the bowl to the pot. You want your curd to become very thick and lovely and creamy. That is also why I use so much butter (my Ninni taught me well). Decant into your jars and allow to cool before tightly sealing your jars. You shouldn’t really eat it immediately, but really… Keep them in the fridge for up to two months, though I have kept mine for longer. Cover your lids with a square of gingham and give as a gift – your granny will think you awfully clever. But trust me on the teaspoon!