We’re in the dark days of winter here — that stretch where the rain comes with alarming frequency, and even though we’re past the winter solstice mark, the days seems to stretch on in grey dreariness.  We had a brief respite here with a couple of days of snow, which got everyone’s blood moving, and had the shibas out in the back yard, playing endlessly like little kids, but last night, the rain started in earnest, and we’re back to the bleakness of late January.

Just at its bleakest though, a little ray of sunshine appears in the markets — citrus!  We’ve just started to see a steady supply of Meyer lemons here, and I’ve been waiting a few days for a quiet afternoon to whip up a batch of Meyer lemon curd!

Meyer lemons are originally native to China — cultivated in pots and prized for their flavour — but are a recent citrus introduction here in North America.  This is partly due to the fact that they have such delicate, thin skins that they don’t make good world travellers ;).  In the 1970’s we began to see some cultivation of Meyer lemons, and creation of new varietals in California, which has made them much more accessible.  Once chefs and bartenders in North America discovered them, they have been in hot demand, snapped up as quickly as they appear on the produce shelves.

They are an interesting mix — tart like a lemon, but sweet enough to eat on their own like an orange!  It is thought that they are an old Chinese cross between a mandarin and a lemon, which is a pretty good approximation of how they taste.

On to curd!  I love lemon curd, and scoring a box of Meyer lemons is just the excuse I need to whip up a batch of lemon curd!  I’m not going to give you a recipe today, but rather point you in the direction of the recipe I use most often — from finecooking.com.

The method is a little different than most recipes, BUT it is foolproof!  If, like me you hate washing dishes, you can use a deep enough saucepan from the outset (a 4 quart saucepan works well),  and actually mix everything together right in the saucepan.  Use the heaviest saucepan you have to avoid worries about scorching things, but it is a remarkably forgiving recipe, only requiring constant hovering once the butter has melted.   The only modification I make to the basic recipe is to add a pinch of salt.  I have made it with virtually every citrus fruit with great results, and it doubles (and even triples) just fine!

I put this batch of curd in these cute Weck Jars (I <3 these as they are not just cute but practical AND entirely BPA free!).  They are NOT BEING CANNED though — please note there is NOT enough predictable acidity in most fresh lemon juice to create lemon curd that will be safe for hot-water bath canning.  The good news is that you CAN freeze lemon curd for later use!

So go find a little citrus to bring a little sunshine to your day!

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Janice Mansfield is a personal chef who specializes in creating customized catering and baking for people with food sensitivities. A recipe developer and baker by day, by night, she enjoys delving into the history of classic cocktails and created a line of cocktail bitters for no other reason than she wanted chocolate bitters in her Manhattans! In her spare time, she documents the antics and unbearable cuteness her two Shiba Inus over at Life in the Shiba Shack.

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