It wouldn’t be a wintertime trip to California without a whole lot of citrus fruit. Clearly, I love the citrus that gets trucked up the I-5 corridor to us in Portland, but I found myself swimming in citrus options down south. I sampled a lot of delicious, new-to-me fruits, and brought some lemons home that I just finished turning into lemon curd.
I sampled quite a few more, but these fruits are the ones I managed to get back to my friend’s house. The Kishu mandarin on top was quite tasty, and I loved the blood orange right below it. The Seville sour orange below that to the right was very interesting — it tasted like a cross between an orange and a lemon. I only realize now looking it up, though, that it’s actually a cross between a pomelo (the large yellow one) and a mandarin, like the gold nugget mandarin sitting on top of it. The gold nugget mandarin was a classic, and the pomelo was a little like a grapefruit. The greenish one on the lower right is a Blanco Oro grapefruit. It was a very fine grapefruit.
I was feeling pretty well stocked with citrus with a few of these in my bag when I showed up at my next friend’s house, but she had me beat by a long shot — her Meyer lemon tree is having a banner year, and despite having produced a lot of marmelade and lemon-infused vodka, she still had an overflowing fridge drawer. I was happy to take a few off her hands before heading North, because I wanted to try making lemon curd as a souvenir.
I looked at a number of recipes (this one, this one, this one, and this one) before deciding that lemon curd must be a very forgiving thing to make, because the recipes had vastly different ratios of just about every ingredient, and even markedly different instructions about things like when to add the butter, and what temperature to cook it to, or whether to cook it to temperature at all.
Here’s what I did to produce a very tasty, tart, perfectly sweet (in my book) lemon curd: I juiced and zested six Meyer lemons, and combined the juice and zest with a stick of butter and 1/3 cup of honey in the top of a double boiler, and lazily whisked while it cooked. Some recipes said to cook for as little as 5 minutes, but it took at least 15 for it to thicken and get the point where there were a few bubbles coming to the surface, which one recipe said was a sign of doneness. At that point, my candy thermometer said it was still close to 150 degrees (other recipes suggested 160 and 170), but it was perfectly thick for my taste. I made about a pint this way, and I suspect I’ll have no trouble eating all of it quite soon. It’s good to know how to make — I’ll keep it in mind as a cake filling.