me like curd

Introducing my deconstructed lemon tart.

lemon tart...deconstructed

Did I mention it’s 100% raw?

And this is what lemon curd looks like, using raw lemon zest & pith powders – with absolutely no eggs, no butter, no refined sugar, no cream, no cooking.

lemon curdlike

Most zesty and delicious.

So how did I get to this point? Let’s start at the very beginning.

How it all began. The inspiration for my raw, vegan lemon curd came from failed orange juice.

One day I decided to juice an aging bag of oranges by pulverising them in Mac (my Thermomix) and pressing the resultant pulp through a nutmilk bag. The pulp was too thick to press through, so I mixed it with a little water. The juice was viscous and bitter. Not wanting to admit defeat, I added honey, and then I allowed myself to get sidetracked for a few minutes before consumption.

When I tried to drink my glass of orange juice, I couldn’t – because it had jellified!

This reminded me of the high pectin content in citrus fruit and gave me the most fantastic idea, which became the mission for this blog post. I would make a lemon curd with only raw & organic ingredients. [For those of you who don’t yet know it, pectin is a highly soluble fibre that is naturally found in fruit and is used to set jam.]

My mission: to create a delicious, raw lemon curd. This meant organic ingredients, no eggs, no butter, no refined sugar – and no heat (above 45°C). Impossible, you say? I don’t even know what that word means.

Step 1: research it, part 1. I researched lemons and their properties. Did you know:

  • aside from being high in fibre, the pith of the lemon is a good source of vitamin C?
  • the lemon oil in lemon zest (limonene) has anti-cancer properties?
  • the pith of the lemon holds most of the pectin content?

Step 2: prepare for it. I have been separating lemons into their zest (dehydrated then powdered), pith (dehydrated then powdered) and juice for a while now. Without really having a formula in mind, I still felt the need for more. So I made more. Lots more.

everything lemon

This is a glimpse of my workspace during the production process:

my workspace

Step 3: research it, part 2. I researched traditional curd recipes to give myself a decent benchmark, and I discovered the same basic ingredients featured (eggs, sugar, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, sometimes cream) in varying quantities.

In the end, I used the following recipes as comparatives:

I used these comparatives to get a sense of the fat : sugar : zestiness ratios, and I relied on my memory of fresh lemon curd to compare the look and mouthfeel.

Step 4: create it. So I conducted a few foodly experiments over the course of a couple of lazy 40°C afternoons.

I developed three different recipes that looked reasonable on paper, based on varying degrees of pith and kuzu.

I had decided that kuzu [= wild Japanese arrowroot] would be a good option for partial jellification after spying this video. And then, on experimenting with a little kuzu myself, I discovered that it would only gel after exposure to heat above 80°C, and not when brought into contact with an acid. This discounted it for my raw experiments, however its interesting properties and health benefits (especially for circulation and digestion) mean that I may use it for another purpose in the near future.

Now I’d like to tell you a little story about the three curds:

  • Option 1 was too fatty. It involved cacao butter and coconut oil as the fats – and I found that the cacao butter was too strong a flavour for my curd;
  • Option 2 was too…meh. It used the right ingredients in the wrong quantity; and
  • Option 3 tasted just right. We ate it all up.

On refrigeration, the preferred option was very clear; Option 3 was the only one that didn’t chill beyond stirability. The other two developed a hard layer across the top that could not be reincorporated until the overall mixture warmed.

Only after all of my dehydration efforts did I stop to think that dehydrating the key ingredients may deactivate the pectin by changing its structure too greatly via dehydration & pulverisation. [Are there any food technologists out there who can enlighten me?]

This led to Option 4: three lemons blended in my Thermomix with some water and agave syrup. It tasted too bitter and didn’t set. Such a shame.

Step 5: use it. The verdict? I came up with a great curd substitute but, for someone who had something of a lemon curd addiction in her early teens [thanks to a certain friend’s mum & her famous lemon curd cake!], it did not have the same comfort factor that I remembered.

Option 3 was definitely the stand-out [closely followed by Option 1, as judged by two discerning adults and a 2-year old] – lots of zing, a decent texture and just enough sweetness – so I am sharing this recipe with you today.

Recipe #112: Lemon curdlike. Aka “I can’t believe it’s not lemon curd!”.

You will need:
► 65g coconut oil
► 100g lemon juice
► 1 tsp dehydrated lemon zest powder (= ~4 tsp fresh zest)
► 10 tsp dehydrated lemon pith powder
► 125g agave syrup
► 1 small pinch Himalayan crystal salt, pounded until fine [I used my mortar & pestle for this]
► ½ vanilla pod, seeds removed and used elsewhere, cut into pieces

Non Thermomix method:
1. If the coconut oil is solid, warm it over a double-boiler until it is liquid.
2. Whisk all ingredients until combined really well.

Thermomix method: Whiz all ingredients at 37°C and speed 2 for 2 minutes.

Then, for both methods:
1. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
2. Strain the mixture into a bowl through a fine chinois, pressing it through the mesh with a spatula and discarding the pieces of vanilla pod and whatever is leftover.
3. Chill for at least 2 hours – by placing the bowl of curd into a cold water bath, which is then placed in the fridge.

Serve in a generous smear on fresh bread, or pipe into raw almond petit four cases for a little class.

pretty little raw lemony petit fours

Or sprinkle with coconut chips & nutmeg over a “sand” of almond meal & coconut sugar if you like the look of my deconstructed lemon tart [by the way, it happens to be delicious!].

more deconstructed fabulousness

Enjoy!

H 🙂

mini lemon tarts


Addenda of 6 January 2011:
(1) I added a few more words to make it really clear that there is no cooking involved.
(2) Note that I powdered my Himalayan crystal salt in my mortar & pestle before using. No one wants to discover an undissolved salt crystal in their lemon tart!

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Joshua Jones says:

    I REALLY love this recipe Hannah. Although I haven’t tried it yet. But I will, and when I do I’m sure I’ll just love it more.

    I’m looking for recipes that don’t use refined sugar and that maximise my raw food intake. I’m not trying to lose weight (I certainly don’t need to do that) but everything I read says sugar just isn’t good for you. Unless it’s natural sugar, like fructose, straight from the source.

    Keep the genius ideas coming. I might have to get myself a “Mac” once I’m settled in LA. They sound extrmemely handy and helpful. xo

  2. Tanya Regan says:

    Yumbo!!! This looks delish!

  3. Hannah says:

    Thanks for the lovely compliments, Josh & Tanya. I’m really excited about this batch of experiments 🙂

    The knowledge that food can be beautiful & tasty as well as good for your mind & body is such an inspiration.

    Any ideas as to what I should get up to next…?

    H 🙂

  4. Tenina says:

    Hannah, this is awesome! Congrats…you little foodly scientist! Brilliant! (If down the track we do a proper full on raw book, can I come to you for help??)

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks, Tenina! I had a lot of fun with this challenge.

      I would love to help out with a raw book when you/TM put one together.

      H 🙂

  5. Maureen says:

    I am drooling! yum yum 😀

    I am also super keen to come along to one of your raw food workshops when they start. I have just started on a vegan journey and will be purchasing a thermomix in the near future and am very keen to learn all about the world of food. I would love to be any sort of ‘guinea pig’ if you need one for your new ventures! xxM

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks so much for your supportive words, Maureen – and I will take you up on your offer of use as a guinea pig!

      Your new journey doesn’t have to be difficult and full of deprivation. It just has to be right for you 🙂 I would love to help you in any way I can.

      Btw, if you don’t already have a TM consultant lined up, my Mum is an awesome demonstrator & would love an excuse to visit little one again…

      H 🙂

  6. What a thoroughly-delightful, well-organized, well-researched, well-documented post! Really, really super. Thanks for doing all this work and providing such a lovely, healthy Thermomix recipe. Really outstanding. TONS of work you did for this and I for one, truly appreciate it. It’s going on my blog’s list of “inspiring recipes to try next”.
    Cheers,
    H.

    1. Hannah says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Helene; I’m blushing!

      I’ll blog about those tiny raw ‘pastry’ cases next so that you can replicate my petit fours. Please let me know how my recipe works out for you.

      H 🙂

  7. Adrianne says:

    Beautiful Hannah! Both deconstructed and in petit fours. I’ll definitely be making it soon. 🙂

  8. suellen says:

    Hannah you are an artist XXX those lil tarts are so beautiful and overflowing with love X YUM! Happy new year! happy new magic XX lots of big hugs from Suellen

  9. Hannah says:

    Adrianne – Most excellent news. Let me know how it turns out for you.

    Suellen – you are so lovely 🙂 Happy new year to you too – and I hope you give the tarts a go!

    H 🙂

  10. barbarads says:

    Beautiful. Love your blog!! I also have a raw food blog and on an amazing journey to re discover my health and vitality!

    Blessings,

    Barbara
    http://www.rawfullytempting.com

  11. barbarads says:

    You might want to check out Irish Moss Paste. Another good thickener is ground white chia seeds. Lovely creation!

  12. Hannah says:

    Thank you for your lovely comments, Barbara! I love reading about your journey too.

    Thanks also for your suggestions. I do have some Irish moss on order and I also use chia seeds in different dishes; ground flaxseed is another healthy thickener. Each have their own texture and purpose.

    I am so excited at how my creativity, palate and technical repertoire have opened up since increasing my raw intake!

    H 🙂

  13. What a great discovery! I will definitely try this. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks so much, veggie wedgie! I felt like a bit of an obsessed scientist during this experiment – and it’s so awesome when it all turns out in the end.

      H 🙂

  14. noelnoms says:

    At what temperature do you dehydrate your pith before grinding it? How long do they need to dehydrate? What else do you use the ground pith in? Just anything that needs pectin? Does the bitter flavor linger, or does it dissipate during drying?

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for visiting, Noel.

      In answer to your questions, I dehydrate my pith at 41°C until really crispy (at least overnight; depends on the external temp & humidity in the air). I have only used the pith powder in this recipe and as a thickener in raw jams, but I am sure there are a million other uses for it!

      Because pith is bitter, the secret to making it work in a recipe is to balance it with sweetness and sourness.

      H 🙂

  15. Sonnora says:

    when you dehydrate the pith do you also dehydrate the juice or keep it for the curd? Do you dehydrate the rind of the lemon also?
    I have lots of lemons and how can I store the curd and for how long will it keep? I can’t wait to try this, thank you for all your work!

    1. Hannah says:

      Good questions, Sonnora, and thanks for visiting!

      I dehydrate just the zest (outer part of the rind) and the pith (inner part of the rind) components of the lemon separately; I either store the juice in the fridge or freeze it if I know I won’t use it all in time.

      I can’t tell you exactly how long the curd keeps, but my experience has shown that it is at least a fortnight if refrigerated in an air-tight container. I also don’t know how it freezes (it was all gobbled up before I could try that out!).

      H 🙂

  16. Heidi Merika says:

    I LOVE this recipe!! So excited to try it and think your something of a genius for creating it.

    Just wondering approximately how many lemons you need to use to make enough powdered lemon pith for this recipe and how much curd you end up with from this recipe?

    I am too excited to wait for an answer so have just put the rind and pith from 6 lemons in the dehydrator. Am hoping this will cover it and maybe some for next time? Cheers Heidi

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Heidi.

      I don’t actually remember how many lemons I zested, pithed and juiced. It was a lot. I ended up with enough pith for multiple batches, and the recipe yielded around 300mL of curd.

      I know my reply is ridiculously late, but I hope this helps!

      H 🙂

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