Citrus Curd

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Curds are really easy to make, but so tasty, and they make impressive gifts! I had a bunch of mandarin oranges languishing on the counter this week, and curd is a great way to use them up. It doesn’t take that much juice or a lot of time to make a good sized batch.

A few weeks ago I made a lemon and lime curd and watched my family plow through about 12 oz. of it really quickly! My daughter in particular enjoys pairing it with pancakes, but you could also enjoy it on quick bread, scones, toast, and more. I also used the lemon lime curd as filling in little tarts, or you could also use it between cake layers. Yum!

This recipe works for a variety of citrus, but you will want to modify the sugar amount a little bit based on the relative sweetness or tartness of the juice. For example, 2/3 cup of sugar seemed barely enough for lemon and lime, but 3/4 cup of sugar was a bit too much for mandarin orange. If I could do it again, I would reverse them! You can also start with the lesser amount and add a bit to your taste during cooking. The recipe below makes about 22 oz., but I think you could easily halve it if you wish. Or just gift a jar of it!

Curds can be made in a regular pot on the stove, but I prefer using a double boiler. Either way, you have to be fairly attentive to make sure it doesn’t get too hot and curdle your egg mixture. I highly recommend the double boiler for making curds, chocolate fondue, etc. You still have to watch the temperature of the water in the bottom pot, but I think it’s easier to keep the curd from overcooking.

Keep in mind that curds need to be stored in the refrigerator and are best eaten within 3 weeks or so.

Yield: about 22 ounces, or fills three 8 oz. jars scantly

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of citrus juice, preferably from fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • (optional) 1 to 2 teaspoons of zest

Steps:

  1. Zest some of your fresh fruit if you wish to include the zest.
  2. Squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Depending on the size and juiciness of the fruit, it may take about 6 to 8 lemons or mandarins to obtain 1 cup of juice.
  3. Whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar together in a bowl until they are light and frothy in texture. Then stir in the zest.
  4. In the top of a double boiler on low heat, gently melt the stick of butter. When completely melted, whisk in the juice.
  5. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot and stir constantly. It will look thin and bubbly, as in the picture below:
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Curd at the start of cooking process

6. Continue stirring and cooking on low heat until the mixture has thickened to a custard-like consistency. This will likely take around 15 mins., but just keep stirring frequently!

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Curd when it’s done cooking

7. Remove from the heat and whisk to remove any lumps.

8. Ladle into warm dry jars, leaving about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch space. Seal and leave to cool on the counter; then refrigerate.

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Mandarin orange curd on buckwheat pancakes!

 

Peach Compote

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It was a great summer for peaches in the Portland area. I kept picking or buying 20 or 30 at a time (or 54!), and wondering how I was going to get through them all, and then before I knew it, they’d be gone!

We enjoyed peach cobbler, peach dutch baby, fresh juicy peaches eaten out of hand, and of course, my favorite way to preserve them is in a peach compote. Peaches go so well with warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom, and their juiciness makes them a great candidate for a saucy compote to spoon over waffles, ice cream, yogurt, and so on.

(Yield: 2 or 3 pint jars)

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of peeled peaches
  • 1 – 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

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Steps:

  1. Slice the peeled peaches into eighths and then halve or third each slice, so that you have roughly one inch chunks. Add the peaches to a heavy-bottomed large pot, along with the sugar and spices. You can adjust the sugar according to taste.
  2. Bring the peaches to a simmer over medium heat and stir occasionally. Continue cooking until the juices start to thicken somewhat, but don’t let it cook so long that it becomes jam! Total cooking time will be between 20 and 30 mins.
  3. While the peaches are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and wash your jars, lids, and rings.
  4. Spoon the fruit into the washed jars leaving about a 1/4 inch of headspace. Then attach lids and rings and place filled jars into pot of boiling water. Make sure tops of jars are covered by water.
  5. Process the jars for 5 mins. and remove from the pot and cool on a rack.

 

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Passion Fruit Curd

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Cream scones with lightly whipped cream and dollops of passion fruit curd

It was probably our honeymoon in Tahiti that kicked off my love affair with passion fruit. A yellow skinned variety grew wild on the island of Moorea and we picked and ate whatever we could get our hands on. Oh, how I wish I could grow passion fruit here in Oregon. I did discover years ago that I could order a big box of the fresh fruits from farms in S. California, as well as you can find bags of maracuya pulp frozen in Mexican groceries. The frozen pulp works perfectly here and is a lot more reasonable than buying the fresh fruit in grocery stores.

(Yield: 2 1/2 cups curd)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 eggs beaten lightly
  • 1 cup of passion fruit pulp
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Passion Fruit Curd

Steps:

  1.  Fill bottom of double boiler with 1 to 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Avoid boiling the water as it can cause the egg to congeal into hard bits.
  2. Place all ingredients in top of double boiler and cook over gentle heat until mixture thickens. Whisk often for 20 – 30 mins., until curd sticks to spoon without running off.
  3. If you see bits of firm white egg in the curd, you can strain the mixture with a sieve.
  4. Pour into jars and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator and use within a month.

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Aunt B’s Apple Butter

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Apple Butter

When I was growing up, my Great Aunt Barbara in South Georgia would occasionally send my family jars of homemade jam, jelly, and apple butter. These little jars of sweets were always a warm reminder of far away family, as well as the tastes, smells, and kindnesses of Aunt B’s home.

As an adult, I eventually had her write down a few recipes for me, including the apple butter. I make it yearly now, and we enjoy it liberally on Apple Cottage Cheese Hotcakes, or toast and such. At some point years ago, I realized I preferred not to use tons of sugar in my preserves, so I reduce the sugar here from her original 6 cups to 2 1/2 cups.

(Yield: 5 pints)

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Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds of apples (weight before cleaning)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 box low sugar pectin; OR, 6 teaspoons Pomona Pectin and 6 tsp. calcium water

 

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Steps:

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples and place them in a large pot or dutch oven. Pour in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 20 – 25 mins. or until tender. Stir occasionally. (I’ve also used a pressure cooker for this step which brings the cooking time down to about 10 mins.)
  2. While apples are cooking, prep your canning jars, lids, and rings according to manufacturer’s instructions. Heat a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Mash the fruit with a potato masher until it looks like thick apple sauce. (If you prefer a smoother texture, you could put the apple mush through a food processor or blender.)
  4. Stir in sugars and spices and pectin and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving a quarter inch of head space. Place lids and rings on jars and lower into the pot of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the lids and boil jars for about 5 mins. Remove from the water and let cool on a rack.

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Pear Butter

My daughter refers to my pear butter as “Beau bear cheek butter,” because it’s as silky smooth and delicious as her baby cousin’s cheeks! But you don’t have to just take our word for it — pear butter is easy to make at home on your own! Since it cooks down quite a bit, I recommend making a batch when you have at least 4 pounds of pears, but you could easily cook more. I also enjoy spicing it up quite a bit, with vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc., but you can use as much or as little of these as you like, or have on hand.

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Ingredients:

(makes about 5 half-pint jars)

  • 4 – 5 pounds of ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered (this produced 7 cups puree)
  • lemon juice to prevent the cut fruit from browning (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups – 2 1/2 cups of brown sugar*
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

* Note: White sugar works fine too, or you can do a mix of brown and white sugars. I recommend starting with the smaller quantity of sugar and then adding it by the 1/2 cup as needed.

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Steps:

  1. Place pears in a large pot with optional lemon juice, and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 45 mins. to an 1 hr.
  2. When pears are soft but before they break apart, strain pears and puree in blender or food processor. Pour out the cooking water. Return puree to pot. (Although I started with the pear pieces in a crockpot, I ended up transferring the puree to a big dutch oven on the stovetop, which reduced the liquid a lot faster.)
  3. Add spices and sugar to puree and stir. Heat to a low bubbling simmer and stir occasionally until mixture thickens. This will take about an hour, but depends on the surface area of your pot, and level of heat. The butter will be smooth, and drip slowly from a spoon when it’s done.
  4. While pear butter is cooking, prep your canning jars, lids, and rings according to manufacturer’s instructions. Heat a large pot of water to a boil.
  5. When the pear butter is done cooking, pour into jars leaving about a 1/4 inch of head space. Place lids and rings on jars and lower into the pot of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the lids and boil jars for about 5 mins. Remove from the water and let cool on a rack.