lemon curdin' in the mornin'

Since I always have lemons (as well as oranges, limes, grapefruit, clementines and other : organic, mind you) naked, void of their skins, rolling around in the refrigerator or on the counter top in my kitchen—I'm crazy about citrus zest—I often turn their juice into a clear curd that I can spread on my morning toast… With a bit of nut butter (sesame, almond, hazelnut, sunflower, etc) thinly spread beneath, in the place of cow's milk butter—a good olive oil works lovely, as well—c’est tout simplement excellent.

I never juice a lemon or lime, eat an orange, grapefruit, clementine or other without first "undressing" it—why throw any of those precious goods out! Let's see... I either zest the fruit with my favorite citrus zester and use the zest, fresh or slightly dried, to enhance and add layering to my vegetable dishes; peel it into long strips with a vegetable peeler, cut off all the pith, slice lengthwise into thin thin slivers, lay them to out to dry and turn miraculously into lovely curlicues that add not only flavor and layering but also texture to many a dish (I have a video of this); peel it à vif, spread the peels out in the open air (or in very low heated oven, the door slightly ajar) to dry, filling a jar full of their colorful "petals" so as to be able to plunge my hand inside, come the desire, drop a few into a tea cup or mug, along with a bit of cardamom, cinnamon stick, fresh bay leaf, mint, rosemary... and steep up a refreshing gentle tisane; make a few precise incisions in the skin from top to bottom and carefully peel away the skin and pith, collect the peels in a jar I keep in the refrigerator over a few days until I have enough to make up a small batch of candied peels whose uses seem endless...

You can see why I always have a troop of naked citrus accumulating in my kitchen, and why I often must "do something" with all that cherished juice.

My solution is often to make a simple  CITRUS CURD :
Any number of “naked” lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, or a mixture thereof—organic, of course
Light honey (clover, acacia, tilleul…)
Blond cane sugar
1 or two fresh bay leaves or a few thyme flowers

|||  Juice the peeled citrus fruit. Strain the juice, if you wish though I don't. I even leave a few seeds for their pectin power. Weigh the juice. Transfer to a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the same amount in weight of a mixture of honey and blond cane sugar (1/3 honey, 2/3 sugar, or just cane sugar for a vegan variation) into the pan. Add the bay leaf or thyme now, if using them.

|||   Bring to a boil and stir once to blend. Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, until very syrupy. Once the bubbles that form on top become quite condensed, I check the consistency by tipping the pan or swirling the pan vigorously… if the bubbles rise up in a myriad of teeny tiny bubbles… you’re there. Pour into a bowl and skim off any foam that forms. Let cool and store in glass jar in the refrigerator.  My curd has kept nicely that way for 2 months, even longer… when I’ve forgotten it at the back of the fridge or in the corner of a shelf.

note : here in France all but Valencia oranges disappear from the marketplace end of April... but the lemons from Sicily are in full bloom as spring settles in.

Some good info here on pectin and consistency.

Next item on the shopping list is one of those heavy duty “on steroids” stick blenders (or a Jazz Max from Belgium) so I can make my own nut butters… Since I’m already making my curd and, now, sourdough bread and have even started stirring up my own grain or nut milk, I might as well complete the picture.

Happy zesting !

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