The produce section of my local supermarket is so lackluster that it generally discourages me from buying of any fresh vegetable except onions or bananas. Wandering through on my way to buy ice cream yesterday, I spotted a trove of Meyer lemons – six for $2 – and knew that these fabulous citrus had finally made their way from “gourmet” to mass market. Although Meyer lemon season usually starts winding down in March, the lemons were in good shape. When I scratched the skin of one, its unique perfume was released: like lemon and tangerine with floral undertones.
I squeezed two of the lemons right off the bat, making what is akin to a sour aromatic orange juice. Diluted with a little water, and sweetened with sugar, it is an amazing drink – not my idea but one I learned on a visit to Martha Stewart’s compound in Connecticut years ago (THAT is another story). Martha had her housekeeper squeeze tons of Meyer Lemons when they were in season and kept the juice frozen – one of her many good ideas, if you happen to have freezer space. Lack of it encourages you to enjoy Meyer Lemons in their season, in the moment. Now!
Meyer lemons will actually last several weeks in the fridge. I use the zest, removed with a vegetable peeler and cut into fine slivers, in everything…to brighten up chicken salad or slaws or stews…Juice and grated zest add an incredible perfume to plain cakes and butter cookies and makes a spectacular lemon curd, to fill a baked tart shell or sandwich between cake layers with some creme fraiche.
Layered into a tall glass with vanilla ice cream, the curd becomes a mind-blowing adult Creamsicle…
Classic lemon curd is basically a custard made of egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice and enriched with lots of butter until it has the consistency of a thick jam. I leave out the butter to make a lighter, ethereal curd. To make delicious lemon tarts, fold some whipped creme fraiche into the cooled curd before spreading in a baked pastry shell.
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
About 1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg 1 egg white
One 3″ x 1″ strip lemon zest
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Set aside to soften. In a medium stainless steel bowl, or top of a double boiler, combine the remaining ingredients. Set the bowl over, but not in, simmering water. (Although it may be cooked directly on a low flame in a heavy saucepan, using a bain marie or water bath insures that it won’t over cook).
Whisk constantly until the curd is thick and coats the back of a soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir in the gelatin mixture and cook 1 minute longer. Strain into a medium bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.
Transfer to a clean, dry jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The curd will keep about 1 week; cover and refrigerate.
*Photo via Creative Commons License