Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lemon butter magic

Lemons are a much undervalued fruit in the citrus world, as far as recipes go. They're meant to accompany other foods such as fish as a flavour enhancer. What a great job it does with fish too, but as a food in it's own right one can only screw-up the face in anticipation of tasting one!

Yes, lemons are not sweet but they are juicy. Added to sugar, eggs and butter, you have one exceptional spread that will make even store bought bread, taste homemade. I am of course, referring to the magic that is lemon butter.

You may have heard it called by the name lemon curd or lemon spread too, but for my money, nothing says childhood like lemon butter. It was hard to come by, even at a church or school fete. I have yet to taste one bought there however, that didn't have the overpowering raw egg flavour. After all, eggs are a vital component but you need to cook it's flavour out so the lemon dominates completely.

Lemon butter magic

The qualities of lemon butter that I remember as gifts from my childhood, was smooth in texture, glossy and the bight of the lemon is never overpowered by the eggs or the sugar. An overly sweet lemon butter in my opinion, isn't lemon butter - it has to threaten your taste-buds with a mild dose of sour or you won't enjoy the experience. In my research for the perfect lemon butter recipe, I think there are vital facts often missing from the list of usual ingredients.

For example, the number of lemons used in the recipe should depend on the type of lemon you're using. If Meyer is your lemon of choice, then you're going to need an extra one for grated zest. I have Eureka lemons, and in my opinion, it's the best for grated lemon zest. It's flavour is punchy with extra wowzer! So bear in mind, the recipe I have made my lemon butter with, is using Eureka lemons. If you're going to be using Meyer lemons, add an extra (small) lemon's, grated zest.

Recycled "Masterfoods" jars are perfect for small quantities

Don't be confused by the two types of recipes out there either. I've noticed some use whole eggs, while others only use yolks and cornflour (cornstarch). The thing is, they do exactly the same thing but when you omit the egg whites from the recipe - you need the cornflour to thicken the mixture. The theory behind removing the egg whites, is you reduce your chances of curdling so you can cook it in a saucepan directly on the stove. When using a recipe with whole eggs (white and yolk) be sure to make it with a double boiler or a large steel mixing bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.

It goes without saying, that you want to grate the zest as fine as possible, and I actually used my hand blender after I cooked it to ensure the zest was really fine.

A note about using the eggs too (and I have yet to find it in a recipe) before adding them into the cooking process, I put them through a strainer first - as I can never get those chunky globs of albumen out, no matter how hard or desperate I whisk. If you have fresh eggs from your own backyard, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. ;)

So onto the recipe:

4 Eureka lemons (grated zest and juice)
4 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups of castor sugar
150g butter - regular with salt is fine, just don't use margarine

This makes roughly over 2 cups. As it only keeps for a month in the fridge I make this small quantity to be consumed.

Set up your double boiler or mixing bowl and saucepan. Place in the butter until it melts. Add everything else except the eggs. After you've cracked them into a separate bowl, beat them lightly then put the eggs through a strainer. Catch the eggs into a separate bowl again - don't place directly into the double boiler mixture just yet. Make sure the sugar has completely dissolved, then using a metal whisk, slowly drizzle the eggs in, while you're constantly whisking the liquid.

Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes (stirring constantly) then take off the heat and run a hand blender through the mixture. Pour into sterilised jars and then cool for 30 minutes before placing in the fridge.

Lemon butter is one of those recipes you cannot boil after you've put it into the jar, to seal the lid, so consume within the month with refrigeration. They also make a gorgeous filling for mini tart shells too.

Now you can enjoy your lemons for the spread, and save your fish for the lemon grass instead. :)


  1. Hi Chris. If you check out my blog on the right under labels you will see the recipe for a lemon butter that will store on a shelf for over 12 months. It will only need a fridge once opened, tastes divine too!

  2. Hi Chris
    Thanks for this recipe. We are a few months away from citrus season but I'll refer to this recipe when its time. It looks delicious:)

  3. Thanks for your link to another lemon butter recipe molly. In the back of my mind I was hoping there was a recipe capable of being stored for longer in the pantry too.

    You've now stopped my pondering, LOL. :)

    Hi rebel, it is delicious, even if I do say so myself. I'm terribly addicted to it on my sourdough toast. I'm sure you won't be disappointed when you make it. :)

  4. i make mine the same but i add extra zest, some people strain theirs but i like the bits


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