Monday, June 21, 2010

Somewhat-Canned Curd.

At some point on Friday I decided I was going to make lemon curd. I'm not quite sure how the idea came about, but I think it had something to do with a bag of lemons on sale for $1.88 and a craving for lemon bars.

I found a recipe on the web that made a big batch that required canning. Perfect! I had just bought a flat of pint jars at Fred Meyer and they were still in the back of my car. The recipe said it made 7 half-pint jars, so I pulled out four to wash and prep.

The curd needed the zest and juice of 8 lemons. EIGHT LEMONS!! That's a lot of lemons.  Good thing they were so cheap. I keep meaning to buy a micro-planer for zesting, but always come up with excuses why I don't need to spend the money. Consequently, the only tool in my kitchen that will adequately zest is the tiny-side of our beat up grater. Due to the quantity of lemons (EIGHT!) that required zesting, I got creative.

First, I washed the lemons. They was dirty. Then, I used the monkey peeler (the best of the 6 that we own. No joke.) to get off all the skin, but left the pith on the fruit. This was SO much quicker than zesting. Then I threw it all into the food processor to make it zest-sized.

Perfect! The zest and juice get cooked on low heat with sugar and butter, then you toss in a crap load of eggs. Everything was going swimmingly until I decided to skip the step where you strain your eggs through a fine sieve. Bad move. The result was little bits of albumen, etc. that cooked on their own and instead of making it creamy, it left little bits of cooked egg. Still tasty, but kinda weird to see clumps in your curd.

At this point I was ready to can, but the kitchen was a mess. A messy kitchen always makes me a bit frantic, and I'm beginning to think that canning does, too. Probably just because I haven't done it enough and don't know the tricks of the trade.

One of those "tricks" is apparently to have the appropriate sized pot for your water bath. Unfortunately, I had just assumed that my giant pot was big enough to cover my pint jars with one inch of water and didn't check it. Completely full to the brim, there were about 3mm of water over the jars. This required my third frantic call home to Mom, the expert in all things Home Ec. After some troubleshooting, the only solution I came up with was to scrounge around the house for all my tiny jars that at one point held marmalade or homemade concoctions I had acquired from other people. These guys ranged from 1/4 to 1/2 pint and met the "must-be-less-than-this-tall-to-can" requirement.

After cooling, I had three 1/4 pint jars, two 1/2 pint jars, and two pint jars (with sketchy seals) full of lemon curd. Had I not eaten some, or spilled a crap load when transferring from pint to 1/4 pint, I would have had at least another 1/2 pint jar full. I will have to find some good recipes to make in the near future to use up the two pint jars. Otherwise I may just eat it all on toast for every meal, and while that may be super tasty, the 25 pounds I would gain from eating scones all day would really put a damper on my 5K plans in August.

Homemade Lemon Curd
posted on Tasty Ktichen

8 whole lemons, zested and juiced
2 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups (1lb) unsalted butter
8 eggs, beaten

1. Finely grate zest of lemons into medium sauce pan. Squeeze juice from the lemons. You should have around 1 1/2 cup of juice. Add lemon juice, sugar, and cubed butter to sauce pan.

2. Heat pan over low heat until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.  Strain eggs through a fine-mesh sieve into lemon mixture. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly. As mixture steams it will thicken into a creamy consistency and coat the back of a spoon.

3. Remove from heat. Fill hot, sterilized canning jars to 1/8 of an inch from the rims. Wipe rims clean and top with hot lids. Screw on bands to finger tight. Process jars in hot water bath (212F) for ten minutes.  Make sure the water covers lids by more than 1 inch. Remove jars immediately and set upright on towel in away from drafts. Allow to cool 12 hours. Check for proper seals. Label the jars and store in a cool, dry place for up to one year.

Makes 7 half-pint jars.

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