Making Lemon Curd from Your Ponderosa Lemons

What a champ, just 22" tall and two lemons!

What a champ, just 22″ tall and two lemons!

I love my little Ponderosa Lemon Tree.  The year before last it came in from its summer on the patio with a near terminal case of scale and I thought I would lose it, but it has recovered and this year has borne me two lemons instead of the customary one.   I have plenty of jams left from the summer and decided to make Lemon Curd with my bounty instead of the marmalade I usually make.  [I have previously posted the directions for Ponderosa Lemon Marmalade here .]  I first encountered Lemon Curd on a birding trip to the Cornwall area of England.  It is a delightful sweet/tart custard-like topping for a hot scone or muffin, but my favorite way to use it is as a filling between the layers of a lemon cake, with a dollop on the top.

My husband gave this four stars.

My husband gave this four stars.

I first turned to the internet to search for a recipe and found a vast variety to choose from.  Upon analysis, most had the same ingredients in common although in varying amounts.  The constants are lemon juice, butter, eggs, sugar and zest.  I decided that the determining factor was the amount of juice I had to start with, so I  first removed all the zest and then juiced the lemons.

Nearly six inches long

Nearly six inches long


The lemon is big but they have a surprisingly small fruit cavity.  Trimming off the white pith makes squeezing easier.

Just shy of a cup of juice and all this zest.  I froze the rest of the zest for future use.

Just shy of a cup of juice and all this zest. I froze the rest of the zest for future use.

I was just shy of one cup of juice so I added about two tablespoons of regular lemon juice to make a cup.  The sugar amount in the recipes varied from three cups to one and a half.  I don’t like things too sweet, but Lemon Curd is often made with Meyer Lemons which are sweeter, so I thought that two cups would be about right, a 2:1 ratio.  For the eggs (varying from six to eight), I chose to use only four whole eggs.  Some of the recipes also used yolks but I never seem to use the leftover whites, so I just opted for whole eggs.  For butter, the recipes varied from eight to sixteen tablespoons, so I chose eight.  My lemons gave me a magnificent bowlful of zest, but the recipes all called for paltry amounts (1/2 tsp, etc.).  I threw caution to the winds and added a quarter cup, tightly packed.  To temper the sweetness I also added a scant pinch of salt.  Here is the recipe I came up with:

Ponderosa Lemon Curd

  • 1 C. Ponderosa Lemon juice

    I located my long unused double boiler to cook the mixture.

    I located my long unused double boiler to cook the mixture.

  • 2 C. sugar
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 C. zest
  • scant pinch of salt

Ina Garten’s recipe called for pulsing the sugar with the zest first, so I did that and added it into the butter which I had previously creamed.  Add eggs, one at a time beating between each.  Finally add the lemon juice and salt, beating well.  Heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 170º F, remove from heat and store in the refrigerator.  I canned mine, but will still keep it in the refrigerator (the eggs).  If you have it in an open bowl, lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the top so it won’t form a skin.  I used an instant read thermometer to keep and eye on the temperature, but if you don’t have one, it is ready when your finger leaves a track on the back of the stirrer.  Do not let it boil.

It took about 20 minutes to reach 170º

It took about 20 minutes to reach 170º

At 170º my finger left a track that didn't fill in.

At 170º my finger left a track that didn’t fill in.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Marjorie said,

    What a treat to read about your home-made lemon curd on this cold last day of February. I had lemon curd on scones just last week at a local tea parlor. Seeing yours on the lemon cake has inspired me to try my own. Thanks!


  2. 3

    Carla said,

    YUM!! That’s all I can think to say … YUM!!


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