If you are new to preserving or looking for an alternative to jam, a curd is easy to make with a short list of ingredients and equipment. Fruit Curds are a decadent alternative to jam, a rich, soft, spreadable confection; the perfect accompaniment for crumpets, toasted sourdough and brioche. I also use them as a filling in cakes and pastries.
Traditional Fruit Curds are made from fruit juice or purée, butter, sugar and eggs. They are cooked in a double saucepan or over a saucepan of boiling water to prevent overheating. If the curd is cooked over a direct heat, the eggs in the mixture may curdle and spoil the curd.
The curd is cooked, stirring regularly, until the consistency has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. The texture will be smooth, without white specks of over-cooked egg.
As the temperature of a curd only reaches around 71C/160F, it should be covered with a waxed disc when potted and a cellophane cover when cold.
An air-tight twist-top lid should not be used, as the curd may ferment and there is therefore a risk of an exploding jar. As curds shrink when potted, fill the jars right to the brim before applying the waxed disc.
Fruit Curds are often listed in competition schedules, even though they are not true preserves. As a Judge I look for a jar full to the brim, sealed and covered with a waxed disc and cellophane, secured with a rubber band. A brightly coloured curd, and a smooth consistency free from fruit skins, zest or pith. The flavour should be a balance of the ingredients used in the recipe.
Strawberry and Black Currant Curd
Makes 3 x 225g jars
60g black currants
Rind and juice of 1 orange
100g unsalted butter
350g granulated cane sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Gently simmer the strawberries, black currants, orange juice and rind in a covered saucepan for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft. Rub the mixture through a sieve. Pour the pulp into a bowl large enough to fit over a saucepan of hot water or use a double saucepan.
2. Add the butter and leave to melt. Add the sugar and strained, beaten eggs. Gently cook the curd until it thickens and lightly coats the back of a spoon.
3. Pour the curd into clean, warm jars to the brim. Place a waxed disc on the top of each jar. When cold, add a cellophane cover secured with a rubber band. Store the curd in a refrigerator and eat within 4-6 weeks.