When I was in third grade, two of my best friends and I pooled our meager resources, walked to the nearby grocery store and bought our teacher a little, flowering houseplant.
Sycophants, clearly, but I also think the teacher had suffered some sort of personal tragedy — I can’t remember what — and we wanted to express our sympathy. Impressed with our purchase, we carried the plant back and set it on the floor of my friend’s bedroom.
You can probably see where this is going.
Later that afternoon, I accidentally stepped backward onto the plant, crushing our little gift and earning me the moniker “Squasher of Plants” for life.
In the decades since, I’ve dabbled with gardening a few times, growing herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and quite a lot of swiss chard, the latter of which I can’t recall actually planting, at least not on purpose. Some of those attempts have been more successful than others but, suffice it to say, I’m still known more for killing plants than for growing them.
Having said all that, I’ve been raising a little, potted, Meyer lemon tree for about three years now. I think that’s the longest I’ve ever kept a plant alive, with the exception of the chrysanthemum a former neighbor gave us, which steadfastly refuses to die no matter how long I let it go without water in the midst of a Texas drought.
Fortunately for me, citrus trees don’t need to be watered very frequently.
I ended up with a bumper crop of lemons this year. I haven’t decided how to use all of them yet, but this lemon curd is so good that I might have to sacrifice a few more fruits for another batch.
This recipe comes from Michel Roux’s beautiful book, “Eggs.” It’s what I used for the filling in my molasses sandwich cookies, but it’s also nice dolloped on top of gingerbread, spread on toast or even spooned over vanilla ice cream.
Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons and have a light, almost floral scent, but ordinary Eureka lemons will work too.
Although this curd uses just the juice and zest of the lemons, Meyer pith (the white part under the outer peel) isn’t bitter, meaning you can eat entire slices of the fruit. I especially like thin slices layered over pizza with ricotta cheese and arugula.
Do you have any other good uses for Meyer lemons?
Adapted from the book "Eggs" by Michel Roux.
I've made this recipe several times and found it to be pretty reliable, however once my curd didn't set up at all. I think it was because I used three pretty large lemons, throwing off all the ratios. An internet search indicated there was no way to save runny curd, but I threw it back on the stove and whisked in an extra egg yolk with great results. Avoid gargantuan lemons and everything should be fine, but if your curd still doesn't set an extra egg yolk might be all you need.
- 6 oz butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Meyer lemons
- 4 egg yolks
Zest and juice the lemons and cut the butter into small cubes.
Combine the butter, lemon juice, zest and sugar in the top of a double boiler or in a heat proof bowl that is set over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
Whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Add the egg yolks. Keeping the bowl over the simmering water, whisk by hand or with an electric mixer until the mixture begins to thicken. (Roux says this should take about 10 minutes, I find it often takes closer to 15.)
The curd will still be fairly thin, but should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Run your finger across the spoon. If the curd is thick enough that your finger leaves a track a track, then it's ready.
Pour the curd into a jar or other container, cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the curd, and refrigerate. You could strain the curd first if you want to remove the bits of zest, but I never bother.
The curd should continue to set up as it cools.
It should keep for a week or so in the refrigerator. Apparently lemon curd also freezes well, but I can't vouch for that. If you try freezing it, let me know how it goes.