Archives for posts with tag: British Food: A History

It is true that I love a tart and tangy curd. It is also true that I was obsessed with making curds this past week. And it is true that I’m not going to stop here. I might give it a break until a few different varieties of fruit come into season but stop I will not. How I wish I was on our narrowboat, Patience,  harvesting the autumn fruit ripening on  the endless miles of hedgerows that are the companions of the canals. Maybe next year…

Until recently I had only ever made a lemon curd. My mother made apple curd for apple meringue pies because as a child I hated lemon curd. Impossible to believe! Many years ago my older sister made elderberry curd from a plant in her garden and I remember it being delicious. I’ve always wanted to replicate it.  My younger sister recently made apricot curd from the fruit growing on her beautiful property in McGregor in the Western Cape. But until I read the blog post on fruit curds by Neil of British Food: A History, with his comment that curds don’t just come in lemon yellow, I hadn’t really thought that much about making any other curds.

So I started experimenting  and over the past few months made passion fruit and quince curd. Both exquisite  I have to say.  And then, motivated and inspired by my participation in Scarlet Bennett’s creative challenge, last week turned into a celebration of the versatility of the curd.

On Day 23 I produced a naartjie and passion fruit curd; on Day 24, a pink grapefruit curd; and on Day 27, the week’s pièce de résistance  – beetroot,  citrus and thyme curd.

I’m going to have to hold myself back, I feel an urge to get into the kitchen and try a tarragon, black pepper and orange curd but I have a long to-do list that was rather neglected this week because of all the time devoted to the cooking of curds. Luckily we don’t have any oranges and we have run out of eggs, butter and sugar too. Pity.

Beetroot, citrus and thyme curd

  • 600 ml mixed beetroot and citrus juice. I used 5 small beetroot with their stalks but not the leaves, 3 smallish oranges, 4 clementines, and 3 lemons.
  • Grated rind of an organic lemon
  • A couple of sprigs of thyme – don’t be shy
  • 120 g butter
  • 250 ml granulated sugar
  • 6 large free-range  eggs

Put the mixed juices in a heavy bottomed pot and reduce  to 300 ml as per the instructions on 101 Cookbooks along with the zest and thyme.  Add the butter and sugar to the reduced juice and heat  slowly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat, strain and cool for a couple of minutes while you beat the eggs until light and fluffy.  Slowly pour the hot juice mixture into the eggs whisking constantly. Pour back into the pot and cook on a low heat and stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 82 degrees Celsius.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal or  into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled for more or less immediate consumption.


There is a war raging in our household and, sadly, I’m not sure if – and when – there will be a winner. The war concerns which fruit curd is best. Most of the household are on the side of  Passiflora edulis, I on the other hand am fence sitting. I have a long-standing and fierce loyalty to  Citrus × limon.

My relationship with that sour and satisfying fruit curd goes way back:

  • To my childhood and the Eureka lemon tree growing valiantly in a barrel on our verandah for thirty odd years – whose fruits provided the lemon curd  for lemon meringue pie (and lemon cordial), year after year after year.
  • To my youthful dinner party years of regularly whipping up a lemon curd brûlée tart as a pièce de résistance. I have long since forgotten where that recipe came from – and I so wish I still had it. I dream of that tart and often wonder if I could recreate it.
  • To memories of sitting on a freezing beach on Islay in the Inner Hebrides in ‘mid-summer’ wearing layers of clothes eating lemon curd spread on oatcakes accompanied by one of the smokiest of whiskies – Laphroaig. Lemon curd on oatcakes with or without Islay whisky (Earl Grey tea is a good accompaniment too) is now a firm favourite in our household.
  • To our family favourite cheesecake recipe  – the lemon curd cheesecake from Donna Hay‘s Flavours.
  • And most recently to my daughter’s lemon curd filled macarons.

However I have been plotting and planing to make a passion fruit (or granadilla as it is known in South Africa) curd for some months now, ever since our self-sown and carelessly transplanted granadilla vine took over our carefully cultivated and nurtured espaliered fig trees and all their trellising wire.  The plant went wild and I realised I needed to start googling passion fruit recipes in a hurry. In the last week I have harvested over a hundred fruits, there are still at least another hundred waiting to be harvested – and daily more and more of the unbelievably intricate and complex flowers bloom waiting to turn into fruits.

We have over the last few weeks had a trickle of fruits every day and have been enjoying stirring the pulp into yoghurt, with or without cubed mango, pecan nuts and/or maple syrup. But you can only eat so many passion fruit in this way so this past weekend I decided it was time to revisit google .

In my search I read a blog post on fruit curds by Neil of British Food: A History and the words ‘Curds don’t just come in lemon yellow of course, you can make one from any fruit that the juice can be easily squeezed from: orange, grapefruit, passion fruit and pineapple…’ which got me thinking about making passion fruit curd. When I went back to the blog post I realised that there wasn’t actually a recipe for passion fruit curd.  I guess I could have modified a lemon curd recipe but there were quite a few recipes online so  I decided to use Sam Linsell’s recipe from Drizzle and Dip as my starting point.  I really liked the fact she had made two versions – one with pips and one without.

In addition to hopefully making a dent in our growing pile of granadillas I was rather pleased to be using a whole lot of the free range eggs we had bought the previous weekend at The Shed on Route 59. We went to The Shed to pick up some seeds for our vegetable garden from the Living Seeds stall and were very keen to buy some things from the other stalls since The Shed seemed to be a nice local community endeavour. We came away quite happy with some ‘onion garlic’, a big wedge of boerenkaas, some dried wors, game biltong and a large tray of eggs.

I decided not to use too many of the pips in my passion fruit curd so I started by extracting the pulp from about 40 passion fruit, heating it gently in a pot and straining the pulp through a coarse sieve while mushing  it around with a spatula.

I am sure the very yellow free range eggs contributed to the deep golden colour of the finished curd.  It was good with vanilla ice cream and fruit, great with Greek yoghurt and best entirely on its own.

In the quest to determine which curd is the winner I’ll be making another batch of passion fruit curd just as soon as I can tear myself away from the computer. Or should I be thinking about a rhubarb or raspberry curd?

Passion fruit curd

  • 450ml strained passion fruit pulp with the unstrained pulp of a couple of fruits
  • 180g butter
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 8 large free range  eggs

Mix the passion fruit pulp, butter and sugar  together in a heavy bottomed pot and heat  slowly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool for a couple of minutes while you beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly and continuously whisk the eggs into the hot pulp mixture. Put the pot back on a low heat and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal or  into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled for more or less immediate consumption.