History of Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd is a hot item on the recipe pages of magazines the world over. Is it a curd, butter, honey or cheese? We check it out!

‘Lemon Curd’ is originally English in origin dating back to the early 1800’s. The recipe back then was rather literal and not at all how we’d think of Lemon Curd these days — lemon acidulating cream to form curds then separated from the whey through a cheesecloth.

Then there was ‘Lemon Cheese’ which was used to make lemon tarts. Original recipes advise to ‘rasp hard pieces of sugar’, as it didn’t come in grain form then, against the lemon’s skin in order to remove the zest to extract essence and colour. We’ve come a long way since then with the invention of graters!

But now days, recipes call for the addition of eggs and butter, and it is considered more of a ‘velvety custard’ than a jam or jelly. In fact, it’s not curd or cheese-like at all.

You can make fruit curds from just about any fruit that can be juiced (eg: orange, grapefruit, pineapple, mango, berries) but the most common curds are Lemon and Passionfruit.

What is the difference between Lemon Curd, Lemon Butter and Lemon Honey? This is really difficult to answer as most recipes appear to be the same. Literally however, in some cases honey is used instead of refined sugar making the Lemon Honey true to its name.

Traditionally curds have been made for baking – fillings for tarts, pies, cakes, sponges, crumbles, slices, whipped with cream into a mousse, or folded into ice-cream. With creative cooks in the kitchen, usages extends to sweet/savoury dishes too such as Lemon Chicken, or filo pastry dishes.

Usage tips:

  • Simply delicious slathered over toast or scones.
  • Drizzle over frozen yoghurt or a bowl of creamy vanilla ice-cream.
  • Simplify your baking by using in cakes, tarts, pies, steamed puddings, loaves and fruit slices.
  • Add to cream cheese to make a delicious frosting for your muffins and cupcakes.
  • Make a delicious dessert parfait by layering crushed meringues, Greek yoghurt and lemon curd. Or….replace the meringues with muesli to turn it into a delicious breakfast parfait.
  • Add a dollop to bread and butter puddings to make them outstanding.