Over the years I’ve really enjoyed making marmalades, jams and other preserves and it wasn’t until recently when I discovered the wonderful world of fruit curds making. For a few years, I worked in a local tourist atraction as a guide and our gift shop was stocked with various fruit curds, such as raspberry, passion fruit and lime curds. People always commented how lovely they tasted and often came back just to stock up more on their favourite curd.
Today I wanted to share with you my favourite tips on fruit curds making, including how to troubleshoot fruit curds, the different types of curds you can have, fruit curds uses and of course plenty of fruit curds recipes.
What is a fruit curd
Lemon curd is the most popular type of curd, that you can easily buy from any supermarket. Lemon curd is a type of conserve, made from fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs and butter. It’s a consistency of a thick honey and can be easily spread on to a toast. It has a taste of a sharp lemon with buttery smooth texture and taste.
My fruit curds recipes
My favourite tried and tested fruit curd recipes that can be easily made at home. My fruit curd recipes use smaller quantities of fruit (usually around 500 grams – 1 pound), but can be easily doubled to make large batches.
Uses for fruit curds
You can also use lemon curd for traditional pastry or tart making, drizzling it on to cold or baked puddings and as a spread on to your morning toast, brioche, afternoon scones or other sweet breads. It’s also a great filling for cakes, macaroons and chocolate truffles.
If you make your fruit curd a little runnier (add more fruit juice or en extra egg and use the whole eggs for the recipe), you can use it for drizzling over merrangues or other cakes and even use it for creating a drip cakes. The runnier version of curds is also great as a fruit sauce for dipping fruit in or marshmallows and eating straightaway.
I also use my lemon curd to add as a topping for my breakfast porridge (I don’t use any sugar in my porridge, so the only sweetness comes from the lemon curd).
What’s the best fruit to use for homemade curd?
But just because lemon curd is the most popular fruit curd, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make curd from other fruits. And this is where the beauty of homeade fruit curds comes in, because you can make fruit curd from pretty much any type of fruit!
Citrus and sharp tasting fruit, such as orange, grapefruit or limes are great replacement flavour for the traditional lemon, but even more sweeter fruits make and excelent curds (such as raspberries, rhubarb, pineapple).
Slightly blander fruits, such as banana, strawberries or mango need a bit of encouragement from some lemon juice (to make their flavour to ‘pop’) but even those make a delicious fruit conserve.
How to choose your fruit
Always make sure that your fruit is as ripe as possible to get the most flavour out of them. This goes especially for the more delicate (or blander) flavours, such as mango, passion fruit, banana or strawberry. I would recommend to always taste your fruit before you start the curd making process.
If you have a bland, watery strawberries, your strawberry curd is not going to taste miraculously of a delicious strawberrries when it’s finished!
I’ve made that mistake once, when we went to a local pick your own farm and since it was a very rainy summer, the strawberries didn’t have much of a flavour. I though they would be O.K, but they were not and I had to add a lot of lemon and some strawberry essence oil to get any kind of strawberry flavour.
You don’t need to get any expensive equipment for your fruit curd making, but you do need to have a basic set up.
Bain Marie – Double boiler
To get the best possible results (without burning your curd and curdling your eggs) you should use a double boiler. This is as simple as getting a saucepan with about 1 -2 cm of water, bringing it to a simmer and placing a heat proof bowl over top of the saucepan. You use the bowl to prepare all your curd mixture.
When you use double boiler for your fruit curd making, you are applying indirect heat to the mixture, which is more gentle than direct heat under the saucepan.
You will need a heat proof bowl to place over your saucepan. I normally use glass bowl.
Please avoid using metal, brass or stainless steal bowls as they react with citrus fruit, lemon juice and citric accid and your curd might end up tasting a bit metallic.
You can use wooden spoons or silicone spoons, but I would avoid using metal spoon, from the same reason as the not using the heat proof stainless steal bow.
Also be carefull of not using wooden spoon that you’ve used for savoury dishes (such as sauces, stews or meat preparation). Wood is very porus and no matter how carefully you wash your wooden spoon the taste will still be there. You will need to stir the curds for a considerable time (about 20 minutes) and the flavour can easily transfer into the light fragranced fruit curds.
What I tend to do, is to have a completely different wooden spoon that I only use for confectionery, marmalade and jam making and only use that one for my curds.
The basic fruit curds ingredients
- Fruit – juice or fruit puree
- Sugar or Sweetener
- Extra flavouring, spices, alcohol etc (all optional)
Do I need to use fresh fruit for the curd?
The best thing about fruit curd recipes, is that you can make them from fresh fruit, canned fruit, frozen fruit or even just purrees (homemade or shop bought).
On top of that, you can actually make curds from any other liquid, such as Cofee Curd (the fruit juice/pulp is replaced by a strongly brewed coffee), Vanilla Curd (the fruit juice/pulp is replaced by milk with vanilla extract added in), Chocolate Curd (replace the fruit with melted chocolate of your choice)
Type of sugar best for fruit curds making
Technically you can use any kind of sugar, sweetener or syrup for fruit curds, but most fruit curds are made from white sugar. This is because white sugar doesn’t add any additional flavour to the curd, which helps the fruit flavour to come accross better.
Saying that some strong flavoured curds can benefit from the flavour and colour of darker sugars (see examples below.)
Caster sugar is best for most fruit curd recipes because it dissolves quicker (the sugar crystals are small), it doesn’t add any extra flavour and the colour is completely neutral, leaving the fruit natural colour and flavour to come through.
You can also use granulated white sugar, but make sure it dissolves properly before adding the eggs, butter and other ingredients, as it takes a lot longer than caster sugar.
Brown or unrefined sugar
Light brown or dark sugars, such as coconut sugar or it’s alternatives go well with rich flavours and can can compliment the flavour too. Be prepared that brown sugar will make your curd much darker in colour.
- Coffee Curd – made with light brown sugar
- Coconut Curd – made with unrefined coconut sugar
You can also use honey, maple, date, carob or agave syrup with rich flavoured fruit curds. This option will be either indicated in the recipe, or you can swap the same amount of sugar for your choice of honey or other sweet syrup.
Lighter flavoured fruit curds go well with honey or agave syrup and this will help you to achieve a slightly mellow, sweeter taste.
- Lemon & Honey Curd
- Lime & Honey Curd
Darker natural sugar syrups (like date, maple or carob syrups) or sugar molasses like pomegranate molasses are best for rich fruits or non-fruit curds.
- Chocolate & Carob Syrup Curd
- Coffee & Date Syrup Curd
Do I need to use all the sugar specified in the recipes?
Sugar does help to set the fruit curd and of course it’s needed for some of the flavour. Saying that you can use less sugar in your fruit curds, but you need to know how to adjust the recipe, so it sets properly.
If you are lowering the amount of sugar, here how to adjust the rest of the recipe
- Reducing the sugar by 1/4 – this will most likely be O.K – leave the recipe as is and simmer for a bit longer to make sure sure that it sets properly
- Reducing the sugar by 1/3 – use more egg yolks (instead of the whole eggs) or add 1 teaspoon of corn starch (for every 500 grams of fruit)
- Reducing the sugar by 1/2 – use egg yolks plus cornstarch or potato starch if the curd doesn’t set. Simmer for longer to reduce the amount of water in the curd mixture
Unsalted butter is best for this recipe, but you can use a part salted and part unsalted butter as well. Make sure that if you use salted butter you don’t add more salt to the recipe.
For the traditional fruit curd recipes, I use regular dairy butter.
The fresher eggs you use the better because they will emulsify (cream in) better. It’s your call if you use whole eggs or egg yolks, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both methods (see my notes above).
I usually use medium to large size eggs, but over the years I probably used mixed sizes too. It’s just a matter of simmering the curd for bit longer if you need to towards the end of the cooking process if the mixture is too liquidy.
Salt is totally optional, but I think it helps to balance out the flavours and helps to bring all the flavours together.
Salt is particularly useful for adding to more bland type of fruits, such as mango, apple, peach, apricot, banana, passion fruit, plums or strawberries although you can use it with any fruit if you feel that the flavours are not coming together sharply or intensely enough.
Although citric acid is not something you might have in your kitchen cupboard, I think it’s worth mentioning it. Citric acid usually comes as little crystals (looks like granulated sugar) and it’s basically very concentrated natural lemon juice (or the bit that gives lemons the sharpness).
It’s great to use if you want your fruit curd to have a slightly sharper taste and you can’t achieve it by using just the fruit.
Malic acid is the crystalised juice of apples or more precisely the part that gives apples the sourness. It’s often used for making sour sweets, which is why I have it in my store cupboard. It’s fairly innexpensive ingredient, which is well worth getting if you are thinking of making large batches of fruit curds, that might normally end up being a bit bland.
Essential oils or Flavourings
Whilst I prefer to use only natural ingredients when making my fruit curds, with the best will in the world, sometimes you come accross a fruit that just won’t give you the vibrant flavour you want.
This is where natural fruit essences can come in handy and help you to sharpen the existing flavour and make it stronger.
I would always taste the curd before I add the essence in to see if there is anything else I can add before I do that (e.g. lemon juice, citric or malic acid or salt). Only when I can’t get the desired flavour, I’d add a few drops of my flavouring. You can add the flavouring right at the end of your fruit curd making process.
In fact a lot of flavourings are not suitable for heated food preparation (the boiling or simmering the curd with the essence will just make it to evaporate), so always finish the curd first, remove the bowl from the simmering water saucepan and then add your flavouring.
This is completely optional, but I can’t help adding to my fruit curds at least cinnamon or mixed spice. You could also add in ground ginger or ground mace, nutmeg or a tiny pinch of cloves. All of these spices will help to bring out the different fruit flavours.
Some fruit curds, such as mango, apple, peach, apricot, banana, passion fruit, plums or strawberries can be a little bland if left on its own. Lemon juice will help to sharpen their flavour and help to make the curd taste more like the fruit you are using.
Start with 1-2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed (or 1 teaspoon of concentrated) lemon juice, stir in, taste and add more if needed.
Whilst none of the shop bought lemon or other curds will probably have an alcohol, I think it’s an interesting flavour to play with when making your fruit curds. Not only the alcohol will help you to carry the flavour better, but it also helps with the shelf life of your curd (it preserves it). Depending on how much you use, you can easily double the amount of weeks that you can safely store your fruit curd before it needs to be eaten.
The basic fruit curd making method
Wash any fruit you are using and pat it dry with a paper kitchen towel it first.
If using a citrus fruit, I usually zest the rind to get as much grind as possible, but avoid grating the white pith underneath.
Juice any citrus fruit or cut up any other fruit to make it easier to cook. Anything that’s not a puree or juice, I always pre-cook either on it’s own or with a little bit of water or a suitable juice. For example I’ve first stewed my apples with a lemon juice before adding the sugar.
Add about 1 inch or 2 cm of water to a medium size saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over a low to medium heat on your hob. In a suitable bowl the butter, sugar, the fruit you are using, any additional ingredients (unless it’s an alcohol or fruit essences).
Place the bowl over the saucepan and let the sugar and butter disolve first. Stir gently to make sure all ingredients are incorporated and the sugar has dissolved properly (check on the back of a clean spoon for any sugar crystals).
In the meanwhile, beat the eggs together (sometimes when I’m using just the egg yolks, I don’t bother with beating the eggs before hand)
Strain the eggs through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any impurities ( I don’t do this if I’m using just the egg yolks)
Once the sugar and butter dissolved, add the eggs to the main mixture.
Carry on stirring the curd mixture, ensuring that the heat is very low and that the water doesn’t boil (only simmers).
Stir gently for another 10-20 minutes or until the mixture thickens and becomes lovely and creamy.
To achieve a smooth fruit curd, pour and press the hot mixture through a fine sieve.
Pour carefully into prepared glasses or other suitable containers.
How to make sure you don’t scramble the eggs
Make sure that you heat the curd mixture over very low heat and that your mixing bowl doesn’t touch the water. Keep checking the level of water too to ensure that you have enough under your bowl.
Don’t rush the stirring and thickening of the fruit curd. It will happen eventually, but you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs.
The use of whole eggs versus only egg yolks in fruit curds
Over the years, I’ve made quite a few batches of different fruit curds with whole eggs and with egg yolks only and I think that there are benefits of both methods.
Whole eggs fruit curds method
- No wastage – use whole eggs for the recipe – budget friendly
- Could taste a bit ‘eggy’ and rubbery (because of the egg white)
- Easy to get scrambled when you overheat the mixture
- Some people are alergic to egg whites
- Great for ‘thinner – runnier’ style of fruit curds
- Might not set as quickly
Egg yolks only fruit curd method
- More creamy & smooth texture
- More rounded flavour
- No ‘eggy’ taste
- Less prone to curdling when heated up (I’ve never curdled my eggs when I just use egg yolks)
- Firmer set
Whole eggs plus egg yolks method
- A good compromise
- Depending on what type of fruit you have use different ratio – e.g. 2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk or 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
If you see any recipe with whole eggs and you want to replace them with just egg yolks, you should double the amount of eggs. Leftover egg whites are perfect for making simple omelettes, traditional yeasted pancakes or making meringues.
Storing fruit curds
Store in an airtight container (jam jar or similar) in the fridge for up to 3-4 weeks (or up to 1-2 months if alcohol is added). Once opened, eat within 7-10 days, but keep an eye on it just in case it goes off sooner.
Freezing freshly made fruit curds
You can also freeze fruit curds by cooling it down completely and then placing it into a strong freezer bag (that can expand if needed) or other suitable freezer container. You can keep the fruit curd frozen for 1-3 months, then defrost it and use it straight away (whilst storing it in the fridge).
1-2 months unopened in the fridge
7-10 days once opened
1-3 months frozen
1-2 months unopened in the fridge (with alcohol)
Allergies, dietary requirements
This recipe contains eggs and although we have cooked them, this recipe might not be suitable for anyone who is avoiding fresh (raw) eggs.
This recipe is not suitable for vegan diets and it’s not dairy free as it contains butter.
- Gluten free
How to thicken lemon or other fruit curds
Fruit curds take a little time to set. They might look far too runny when you pour them at the end of the cooking, but if you leave them overnight (or at least 12 hrs) you should see a visible thickenning and the curd should be set.
If your fruit curd didn’t set properly, you can gently re-heat it on a double boiler (or Bain Marie) add egg yolk (or 1-2 teaspoons of cornflower/cornstarch or potato starch or 1-2 teaspoons of powdered gelatine or agar agar) and whisk slowly to incorporate. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes, test again with the back of the spoon and then pot.
If you add an extra egg yolk to thicken your fruit curd, the flavour will be just more creamier and smooth.
If you add corn or potato starch, you need to be more careful not to add to much as the final curd taste could be a bit starchy and powdery.
If using powdered gelatine (or agar agar – suitable for vegan/vegetaria diets), ad it right at the end and whisk carefully with a ballon whisk to ensure that there are no ‘gelatine’ pockets.
Do I have to use eggs to make my fruit curd?
Whilst eggs are the best way to thicken the curd naturally and add amazing colour and flavour to the curd, there are other ways to thicken the fruit curds.
You can replace the eggs completely by using 2 tablespoons of corn starch or potato starch (for every 500 grams of fruit – most of my standard recipes). Add the corn or potato starch after the sugar has dissolved and use a balloon whisk to gently stir. Corn or potato starch has the habit of clumping up so make sure you keep the curd smooth as it simmers. Once you boil/simmer on medium heat you will see the curd visibly thickening and at that point you take the bowl of the heat, adjust all flavours and pot.