Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lemon Butter

My mother had mixed feelings about lemon butter. She had been told that undercooked eggs were unhealthy and dangerous, probably crawling with microbes – and yet she loved it. So she'd never make the stuff and 'tsk' when she saw it at the church fete, then buy it anyway and slather it on her crumpets. In the same way, she'd let us lick out a cake bowl, all the while fretting aloud that we'd come down with listeria or salmonella or some other nasty little bug from raw egg. We never did.

Me, I'm not worried. We get eggs fresh from a farm, and my daughters and I always make sure there's enough cake batter left to get a good scrape each with the spatula. And I even make my own lemon butter.

I tend to make it at night when the house is quiet. Although it's quick and easy, it requires vigilance; and it brings on a precious meditative state which I prefer not to have interrupted by short people.

If you're making a single quantity and intend to eat it quick, wash your jars in very hot soapy water, then pop them in a cool oven to dry completely before filling with lemon butter. That's what I did until I had babies and you can too – just don't blame me if you get food poisoning. These days, however, I sterilize my jam jars. I have a baby bottle steam sterilizer needing a new job, and it fits four jam jars rather nicely. It's the one advantage I know of having bottle-fed babies!

Lemon butter keeps for a month or two in a cool place. Once the jar is opened, store it in the fridge.

Lemon Butter

- 2 large juicy lemons, or 3 not so juicy lemons
- 100g unsalted butter
- 175g sugar, and it must be refined white sugar; brown sugar will turn a delicate trembling little butter into an unattractive brown sludge
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Grate the zest from the lemons, or zest the lemons then chop the ribbons into tiny segments. Juice the lemons. Place the zest and the juice into a heavy-based saucepan with the butter and sugar. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Take off the heat and leave to cool a little. Add the eggs through a strainer, and mix to incorporate. Place back onto a gentle heat and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. You must not let it boil, or it will curdle and separate. The moment it looks velvety, take it off the heat, and pour into hot jars.

This makes enough for two medium jars: one for you, and one for the neighbour who gave you the lemons. At least, that's how it works in our house.

Spread it on toast or crumpets, or use it to make little lemon tarts.

A traditional recipe; I use the proportions from The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander.

(Local: lemons, eggs. Non-local: butter, sugar.)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ali - Let me know if ever you need lemons - we always have some going to waste: the only thing in the garden the possums & lorikeets leave for us. Jan