“You can’t mail custards, are you crazy?” was my mother’s response to my very enthusiastic telling of my plans to mail two friends pots de crème as birthday presents. Truth be told the time, temperature and rough handling that wreaks havoc on all mailed food items really hadn’t really occurred to me. The adorable 4oz canning jars I’d found at my neighborhood convenience store that afternoon had distracted me into a world of beautiful little potted custards, transported safely to far away friends. I had immediately run out to the store and bought supplies for lemon-vanilla, and ginger-chocolate pots de crème and called my mother on the way home to share my brilliant idea. ‘you can’t mail eggs, that’s not…no, you can’t do that, not unless they’ve been stabilized somehow, like canned or something’. And my custard dreams were dashed.
20 minutes later, and 2 pints of whipping cream I had no use for later I had a new plan, to make lemon curd, and somewhere, along the way, to figure out how to can things. All the canning sites I found confirmed I that one could, in fact, can lemon curd. And that, with a large enough pot, one could accomplish this without a pressure canner.
The lemon curd was much easier than I expected, and really quite delicious. I used a couple meyer lemons I had left from my CSA box and I’m fairly sure all the hype anyone’s ever gushed over meyer lemons is completely true.
I used this recipe from kitchenconfidante
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
¾ cup sugar
½ lemon juice (meyer lemons if possible)
zest from two lemons
4 Tbsp butter cut into small cubes
The important thing here, as with any eggy sauce, is to keep whisking. Whisk the egg and yolks in a small saucepan until well combined. Continue to whisk while adding the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the custard thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon (mine didn’t take anymore than 8 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat and add the butter, stirring until completely melted. Sieve contents into canning jars and seal with lids.
Curd can be chilled in the refrigerator and eaten within 3 days without canning. But since I was on a shelf-stabilization kick I did the following:
Fill your largest pot water and set on high to boil. (and I was only working with 4oz jars, I don’t think any of my pots would have been large enough to do ½ pints) Once boiling, place jars into the water and start timer once water returns to a full boil. Boil jars for 15-20 minutes (accounts differ depending on contents and jar size but 15 seems to be about the minimum, even for something that seems as fragile as an eggy custard). And then, voila, apparently your jars are shelf-stable. Curd won’t last as long as other jams or preserves and should be consumed within a couple of months, but still leaves plenty of time for sharing and gazing at the pretty yellow jar on your shelf.