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Meyer lemon curd

My first memory of lemon curd is a recent one — that is, from adulthood rather than childhood. My friends and I used to frequent Lisa’s Tea Treasures, to satisfy our hunger for afternoon tea. Ultimately, I found the tea, food and atmosphere, too expensive, not fresh enough, and too damn twee. But they served something which we all could agree to love: lemon curd with ginger cookies. Perhaps those two items succeeded because they were not made at that tea house.

For many years I’ve lived with a Meyer lemon tree in the backyard. For many years, friends have told me how easy it is to make lemon curd. The tree remains outdoors, providing a generous source of juice, zest and bird watching opportunities.

Why the delay? Because there’s such an wild range of ingredient proportions in lemon curd recipes. Many use 3 to 4 whole eggs, but some use up to 8, and some use only yolks. Butter amounts go from less than a cube to more than 4 cubes. What?! And even the amounts of sugar, lemon juice and zest run the gamut. Sheez!

lemon curd in jars

So, I decided to start with simple amounts which are easy to remember. Luckily, the first experiment worked! It is a very tart recipe, which I prefer, so feel free to somewhat reduce the amount of lemon juice. Meyers are also milder and less sour than true botanical lemons such as Eureka or Lisbon, so you may want to use less juice for non-Meyer varieties. Another piece of good advice was from my mother-in-law: use the freshest, tastiest butter you can find.

Important note: Unlike jams and chutneys, lemon curd is NOT sterilized. (Cannot boil the jars, otherwise you scramble the egg in the curd. Yuck.) Use it soon, like within a couple weeks or so, and keep it in the ‘fridge.

Use suggestions: Spread on scones, toast or pancakes. Sandwich between cake layers. Dip cookies into.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 extra large or 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (5 or 7 lemons’ worth)
  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice (similar number of lemons used for zest)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chopped into 1 tablespoon chunks
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Even though sterilization doesn’t occur, get your equipment ready. Wash the jars, lids, strainer and large measuring jug, then put them in a 225ºF degree oven for about 30 minutes before starting to cook (which will help dry them off, too). When you’re ready for the next step, turn off the oven so they won’t be too hot to touch when you need them.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan that’s resistant to acid, such as stainless steel or something enameled.
  3. Stir frequently over medium low heat with a whisk. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens into a custardy consistency. You’ll need some patience, as this takes about 10 to 15 minutes, from the time all the butter melts. You want to aim for a custard temperature of 150ºF to 160ºF degrees (65ºC to 71ºC). Then again, once it looks really thick and custardy, take it off the heat as soon as possible.
  4. Pour the curd through the strainer into the large jug. Transfer to the jars, then cap them off. Allow to cool at room temperature, then move the jars to the refrigerator. Yields about 3 cups.

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