Afternoon Tea Recipe: Sous Vide Lemon Curd

[Inspired by Sally McKenney’s lemon curd recipe].

One of afternoon tea’s pleasures is a dab of zesty, creamy lemon curd with your clotted cream and scone. Here’s a super easy way to whip up a batch of your own lemon curd, as late as the day before your afternoon tea. If you prepare the recipe in bulk and use pretty jars, it would also make a lovely favor for your afternoon tea guests or a gift for a tea friend. Homemade lemon curd stays good frozen for one year, and refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.

recipe for homemade lemon curd using sous vide cooker

What Exactly Is Lemon Curd?

According to Simply Recipes, “The name can be a bit misleading, since it’s not really a curd at all. But it used to be when it started its life back in the early 1800s in Britain. Back then, lemon curd really was a curd you made from adding lemons to cream to separate the curds from the whey.”

lemon curd at St. Regis Atlanta with scones

Today it is a fruit spread, whose key ingredients are the juice and zest of a citrus fruit. You could swap out lemons for limes, oranges, grapefruits or tangerines, or play with mixing in the juice of passionfruit, mango or berries. The eggs and butter make a lemon curd very similar to a lemon custard, but not exactly, because milk is not used in a lemon curd recipe.

Lemon Curd Ingredients

What’s great about making your own lemon curd is that you may already have these 6 ingredients at home:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest (uses 1 to 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (use zested lemons)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter

This recipe makes about 4 ounces. We advise allotting a half-ounce or ounce per guest for an afternoon tea or cream tea.

ingredients for recipe for homemade lemon curd using sous vide cooker

Materials to Make Sous Vide Lemon Curd

If you don’t want to stand over a stove and stir, wondering whether or when your mixture is at the proper temperature to get the consistency you want, the sous vide will take away any uncertainty. The circulating water bath will heat your mixture consistently to the correct temperature to emulsify your lemon curd without creating clumps. Here’s what our set-up looked like.

To replicate this method, you’ll need the following items:

  • Sous Vide Cooker
  • Large Pot
  • Lemon Zester or Fine Grater
  • Whisk
  • Food Grade Silicone Bag
  • Large Chip Clip
  • Small Jar or Sandwich Bag to store lemon curd

Click on the images below to get the products we used in our how-to video. The size of your silicone bag will depend on how large a batch you’d like to make. We had a half-gallon bag on hand, but it would have been easier to use a smaller bag to neatly extract the small batch of lemon curd we made. We reused a Petit Pot glass jar with a Food Hugger for a lid to store our lemon curd in the fridge.

Step-by-Step Sous Vide Lemon Curd Directions

  1. Fill a large soup pot two-thirds full with water, affix sous vide cooker to the side, plug in and set to 179°.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Transfer mixture to silicone bag.
  4. Submerse the silicone bag in the pot, allowing the hot water to push out extra air before sealing. Use a chip clip to hold in place — mixture needs to be fully underwater.
  5. Cook for 45 minutes at 179°.
  6. Remove silicon bag, shake to fully blend, and dip in ice bath.
  7. Chill overnight and whisk the bag’s contents to smooth.
  8. Serve, refrigerate or freeze as you like.

Storing Your Lemon Curd

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, “Prepared lemon curd can be frozen for up to 1 year without quality changes when thawed. To thaw, move the container from the freezer to a refrigerator at 40°F or colder for 24 hours before intended use. After thawing, store in the refrigerator in a covered container and consume within 4 weeks.”

recipe for homemade lemon curd using sous vide cooker

With this sous vide method, you could simply use the silicone bag to refrigerate or freeze your lemon curd until you are ready to transfer it to serving dishes.

Serving Your Lemon Curd

scones with lemon curd and cream

A small or decorative glass jar makes a fine serving dish, or you could level up your presentation by serving your lemon curd in glass, crystal or china salt cellars or ceramic ramekins (click pictures below to find). How you serve your lemon curd may depend on your number of afternoon tea (or cream tea) guests: you can either set out individual servings of lemon curd, or a larger serving that’s meant to be passed around. If you choose a larger dish of lemon curd to be shared, remember to set out a small serving spoon with it. And enjoy!

Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

1 Comment

  1. This is fantastic! I love the video of you preparing homemade lemon curd from scratch. I could almost taste it!

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