The simplicity of making citrusy curd

By Jillian Bernardini - Dec 09, 2013 - 10:02 AM
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Thinking of a bright, verdant lime on a snowy-slushy day can perk up anyone's mood. Citrus season is near, so I want to discuss and share a simple method of making homemade curd. Not exactly like curd, "curds and whey," but more like curd that is spread on baked goods or found in a tarte citron, a traditional French custard pastry. 

Similar to a citrusy pudding, curd consists of a few simple ingredients: citrus juice and zest, sugar, eggs, and butter. How easy does that sound? If you have adorable mini Ball jars lying around the kitchen, then canning a few portions of homemade lime or lemon curd can make for a lovely gift for the holidays. 

Easy to prepare on the stove, the key here is to watch carefully as the mixture begins to thicken and constantly stirring the citrus combination! Low heat is ideal, considering little bits of scrambled egg would not be appetizing in the luscious, creamy breakfast spread. I love adding generous amounts of the zest from the limes, but avoid the bitter white pithy part that can alter the flavor of the finished curd.

The thickened curd is best strained of the remaining particles before adding in the chilled butter pieces, which I prefer to do in multiple batches with an immersion blender. This yields a smooth, thick citrus curd that will also thicken and set more once it is refrigerated. 

I like to tell myself that citrus curd or any dessert with the use of citrus juice or zest is more "healthful" considering the acidity of the citrus gives such a light, tart, and refreshing flavor on the palate. Sounds a bit less indulgent than a triple chocolate fudge brownie with ganache, am I right? 

Feel free to use a combination of different citrus fruits, as long as the more tart citrus balances out the sweeter, milder varieties. Breakfast today will be a generous spoonful of lime curd swirled into plain yogurt and trail mix. Recipe to follow!


Title photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Lime Curd

8Xwhole limes, zested, one tablespoon set aside for garnish
¾CUPgranulated sugar, plus two additional tablespoons
¾CUPfresh lime juice (about 7 limes), plus two additional tablespoons
14TBSPNSunsalted butter
  1. In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the lime zest, sugar, and eggs with a heatproof spatula.
  2. Turning the heat to low, add the lime juice and stir constantly for about 15 minutes. The mixture will begin to thicken. Once the lime juice mixture begins to slightly bubble and boil, remove from the heat.
  3. Strain the lime mixture into a medium size mixing bowl, pressing on the zest to pass most of the cream into the bowl. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the butter into tablespoon-size portions. 
  5. Once the lime cream is slightly cooled, use an immersion blender to incorporate the butter a few pieces at a time. Add all of the butter and puree until smooth.
  6. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the lime curd, which will prevent a skin from forming on the top, and place in the refrigerate to chill and set for at least three hours.
  7. Once the lime curd is set and well-chilled, spoon into decorative jars or spread into a pre-baked pie tart. Garnish with remaining lime zest, and serve.


Adapted from Jacques Genin.