It might not make those two feet of snow outside disappear, but a homemade jar of citrus curd will definitely brighten your day. (And maybe someone else's, if you're up for sharing.) Lemon curd is a popular choice, but this is a sweet treat you can make with any citrus fruit.
Citrus fruits, like all the orange varieties, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, truly are winter's shining stars. With varying degrees of sweetness, tart, tang, and bitterness, these bright fruits have a knack for brightening winter's coldest days.
Of course, you can eat them out of hand, or turn them into cocktails, vinaigrettes, and baked goods, but one of the very best ways to put that citrus to work right now is by making a sweet and tangy curd.
While there's nothing wrong with eating it straight from the jar (I won't tell — in fact, I'll join you), there are plenty of ways to enjoy your fresh jar of citrus curd: Spread it on toast or muffins, drizzle it on waffles and pancakes, blend it with yogurt and smoothies, or turn it into a baked dessert or ice cream.
Your Template for Any Kind of Citrus Curd
There are a few different ways to make homemade citrus curd. The underlying idea uses roughly the same ingredients, but the process of getting there can vary slightly. Some methods are fussy, while some are overly simple. Some produce results that will make you swoon, while others can be lackluster.
How to Make Citrus Curd
- 1 cup citrus juice
- Zest from one fruit
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- Pinch of salt
Pour the juice into a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then bring to a simmer and let it reduce down to about 3/4 cup.
Transfer the juice to a measuring cup to cool, and stir in the zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yolks, and sugar. When the juice has cooled to room temperature, whisk it into the egg mixture in a steady stream.
Set a clean bowl with a strainer over the top next to the stove.
Pour the egg and juice mixture back into your small saucepan and set it over medium heat. Stir slowly but constantly until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency — about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is 180°F.
Strain the mixture into the clean bowl to remove the zest and any bits of cooked egg. Stir in the butter and the pinch of salt while the curd is still warm. Mix until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Each of these citrus fruits varies in flavor. Navel and blood oranges are very sweet, grapefruits are a combination of sweet and bitter, and lemons and limes are tart and tangy. Each of these nuances will come through in the curd, and can be heightened or toned down with a simple adjustment to the amount of sugar used in each. We'll talk more about that below.
Pink Grapefruit Curd
This pretty pinkish-orange curd picks up the natural bright and sweet flavor that comes with grapefruit, along with a hint of bitter. But not to worry — the bitterness is far from overwhelming. This recipe makes a grapefruit curd that leans more on the sweet side.
Use two large grapefruits to get one cup of juice. Even though grapefruit can be on the bitter side, I recommend sticking with the template above and not adding any additional sugar.
This vibrant yellow curd is tart and tangy, and may make your lips pucker just a little bit. It will leave you ready to plunge your spoon back into the jar for more. Get those scones ready!
Use four to five medium lemons to get one cup of juice. If you prefer to tame the natural tang of this lemon curd, you can add an extra tablespoon of sugar.
Navel Orange Curd
Orange curd is a special thing. The flavor is soft and mild, with the warm, bright scent of orange that will remind you of a Creamsicle.
Use two large or three medium-sized navel oranges to get one cup of juice. This recipe makes a lovely sweet curd, so I recommend sticking with the recipe as it is — you don't need to adjust the amount of sugar.
Blood Orange Curd
Unlike its navel counterpart, blood oranges make for a curd with a deep, rich flavor. This is orange curd all grown up.
Use about four medium blood oranges for one cup of juice. This recipe makes a lovely sweet curd, so I recommend sticking with the recipe as it is — you don't need to adjust the amount of sugar.
Get ready for visions of key lime pie. This curd is bright and sweet, and packs a tangy zing. Try it stirred into yogurt for a sweet and tangy jolt.
Use about six limes to get one cup of juice. While this curd is wonderful as is, you can also add an additional tablespoon of sugar to the recipe to tame the tang, if you prefer.
(Image credits: Kelli Foster)