A few months back, out of the blue, I suddenly remembered Lemon Curd, and the fact that I hadn’t enjoyed any for over 30 years; indeed, I don’t remember having even seen any in over three decades.
This was around four in the morning, and I sat bolt upright in bed, with only one thing on my mind. I said, slowly, clearly, and with considerable gusto (considering that mere seconds earlier I had been in a deep sleep), “Lemon Curd!”
“What? … What is it?… What’s going on?… Jamie?” mumbled my prone wife sleepily.
“Lemon curd… “
And that was it.
I’m still unsure as to what brought about this nocturnal brain fart, as something must have triggered it, but there it was. And I simply couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night, as this brought up so many questions:
Why had I forgotten about this stuff until now? At four in the bloody morning?
Had I gone through a traumatic experience related to lemon curd and subconsciously deleted all reference to it from my memory?
Is lemon curd even a thing in Canada?
Had they simply stopped manufacturing it and I simply hadn’t noticed its passing, much like that late-lamented tomato-based Bicks burger relish?
Had I completely imagined that it had ever actually existed, and I had some lemon curd false memory syndrome thing going on, à la that apparently entirely imaginary 90s movie Shazaam that so many swear they have watched?
I was apparently peering into the fever dream lemon curd matrix.
Or had I, the previous evening, made that clichéd rather sad middle-aged man mistake of ingesting stupidly potent edibles just because they are legal?
The next morning an extremely tired me, cup of tea in hand, wearily tries to retrace my mental footsteps in an attempt to reverse engineer this lemon curd thing, but to no avail.
Was this simply pandemic anxiety manifesting itself in a regression to nostalgic comfort food, memories from the mind of a younger me, from me as a child?
I Googled it… Wikipedia… it redirects to Fruit Curd:
“Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with citrus fruit, such as lemon, lime, orange, or tangerine. Other flavor variations include passion fruit, mango, and berries such as raspberries, cranberries or blackberries. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest, which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, flavorful spread. Some recipes also include egg whites or butter.“
Okay, so lemon curd does exist. It is a thing. I’m not completely making this up. I had only ever experienced lemon curd, but who knew such a spectrum of fruity curds existed? The mind boggles…
After dressing, I jumped in the car and drove to the local Foodland; appropriately masked and gloved, I stalked the preserves aisle… Nope. Nah. Nothing. Nada. No dice. No lemon curd.
Back in the car I made the decision to drive to Collingwood, as the stores there always have a wider array of items, and I was so damn determined to get to the bottom of this. And it was at Collingwood FreshCo that I would find some President’s Choice Black Label Lemon Curd. Hallelujah!
Needless to say, I sped home, a veritable fire in my belly.
I think it would be fair to describe lemon curd as being akin to sticky, sweet mayonnaise infused with the very essence of lemons. Now, if the thought of that makes you involuntarily retch, then you simply have no idea what you are missing.
Smearing it all over two halves of a toasted muffin, it all came flooding back to me, the zesty citric notes cutting through the indulgence of the gloppy egg yolk/butter suspension… the term ambrosial simply doesn’t do it justice.
I had discovered my lockdown Kryptonite, and it was lemon curd.
The next step is making my own…
Also, apart from the President’s Choice Black Label, can any of our readers recommend any other brands available within Canada?
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s so glad to have rediscovered lemon curd.
I experienced a similar craving a couple of months back.
Two UK brands are potentially available. I found Robertson’s (a bit sweet for me) at Kitchen Table (in Toronto) and both Mackays Lemon Curd and Lime Curd at Flowers & More (on Jane, north of Annette). However, the ‘Gold Standard’ for me are the Wilkin & Sons ‘Tiptree’ products. Sadly I haven’t seen their curds in Ontario (but other jams are available – also at Kitchen Table). My addiction is to their Passion Fruit Curd in particular.
I have to agree with Wilkin & Sons Tiptree being a great one – check out Simply British Foods online for MANY wonderful things, not the least of which are both the Wilkin & Sons Tiptree and an M&S Sicilian Lemon curd. Also on the site is Mackays Lime and a host of other goodies you no doubt miss from home.
I made lime curd just this week – and have made lemon many times in the past. It’s very easy and a great use for fruit you had great intentions to use as cocktail garnishes.
I too love lemon curd! From the UK, you can find Robertsons as well as Wilkin & Sons in Canada as well as E.D. Smith from the US.
I´ll bet you yours will rival any one of these.
I hope you and yours are all keeping well.
Wishing you a great weekend.
I used to really like lemon curd but it somehow never seems lemony enough these days, in fact a lot of foods seem insipid these days – I know the easy answer is ageing changes the ability to taste, but some things still do taste just as good as ever so I don’t think it is my imagination that hot cross buns no longer zing with spice, things supposedly flavoured with cinnamon taste of nothing more than sugar and jars of mincemeat often taste more of apple than anything else.
Food manufacturers it seems are going to any lengths to protect the bottom line and destroying many of our traditional foodstuffs in the process – even the famous HP Sauce was ruined a decade or more ago. The company claimed the original flavour was disliked by modern people and so they turned it into something resembling mud. So many complaints were made they had to make further changes but it is still radically different. The company flatly denied the change was a result of trying to cut the cost of the original recipe. Lemonade used to be quite tart but these days is more like sugar water with a hint of lemon – of course it is possible lemons no longer taste as lemony.
Root veggies taste the same as ever but the leafy sort are mostly comparatively bland – I used to enjoy the rich peppery flavour of watercress. Broad beans used to have a rich earthy flavour and now taste of little…
I am now determined to reinvestigate lemon curd; perhaps there is a reduced sugar version, under the Streamline label perhaps (their reduced sugar orange marmalade is very good). I have seen orange curd once but have never seen lime curd. Trouble is finding niche products in a small country town is almost impossible…
Never tried that commercial product, but then again I usually don’t because I find most are lacking in flavour. But if you really want a killer, over-the-top, lemony, creamy curd try something LOCAL – it’s so much more superior. Did you know that the little yellow plums, when cooked down into a curd with a little sugar and sweet, creamy butter makes the best lemony curd you will ever try? Recipe is in my book The Ontario Table and you really won’t regret it. BTW, don’t put it on a muffin – no you need something that will make the curd shine like a scone, crumpet or pound cake. Muffins (any flavour) don’t support anything but themselves when it comes to flavour. So there you go, you have something to look forward to this yellow plum season! Let me know how you like it and if you need the recipe, let me know.
If Shelf Life was still doing taste tests I’d book 1 with you for lemon curd.
p.s. I like mine on saltine crackers.