It annoys me though the pictures of TV chefs complete with basket walking into their local butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, embracing the proprietors with open arms like long lost friends. Balls. Who has the time? I very much think we need to support local producers who produce good food but for one, not all high street food shops are all that good (a particular failing of fishmongers in my opinion) but if the opening hours coincide with my working hours, sorry, it's not an option.
So, I have embraced the
So my latest internet shop arrived with eggs which were two days after their display until date. So I needed a recipe to use eggs. I still had some lemons in the fridge from when I'd been really ill a few weeks before (emergency honey and lemon) and some tangerines in the fruit bowl. A fruit curd seemed like the obvious choice. Not sugar free, not healthy but very tasty.
Quick tips, use a bowl which fits into your pan a bit. You need a good contact with the steam and the bowl. I didn't to start with and it took quite a long time to thicken.
Lemon and Tangerine Curd - made just over 1 jar
2 lemons (zest and juice)
3 tangerines (zest and juice)
(overall you need 200ml of juice)
200g, 7oz Sugar
100g, 7oz Butter
4 medium eggs
1 egg yolk
Use unwaxed fruit if you can or give them a good wash and scrub first. Zest the fruit using a fine grater being careful not to include the white pith.
Juice the fruit until you have 200ml. Add the sugar and butter and put in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (the bowl should have good contact with the steam but not be touching the water). Heat until the butter melts. Add the eggs. Stir occasionally for 10-25 mins. It can take longer depending on the type of bowl. What you're looking for is it to thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Pour into a sterilised jar and cool.
Sterilise jars by washing in warm soapy water (or even better in a dishwasher) then warm in the oven at about 150oC until dry and hot. For most jams I would then fill the jars hot but for lemon curd, especially as you will eat it very quickly and I don't want the eggs to have too much of a shock I just fill them warm.
Once cooled, keep in the fridge and eat within 2 weeks. If it gets close to the end of it's life, it's great in jam tarts.
After a valid challenge from a commenter, here is the official Food Standards Agency advice on best before dates on eggs. Personally as I work in food safety I don't like to push things more than a day or two but you can tell whether an egg is not gone off by doing this test.
The reason I still don't push it more than a couple of days past the best before date though is all the above test tells you is how old the egg is because there is an air sack which increases inside the egg shell as the egg ages. That doesn't tell you whether the egg is contaminated with Salmonella or Campylobacter and if it is it tells you nothing about whether the bacteria have reached dangerous levels because that is also a function of how they've been stored.
So I agree, it is worth pushing the boundaries a little on best before dates but it's still worth being a bit careful. Any eggs eaten after the best before dates should be fully cooked and with people who don't necessarily have strong immune systems or where the consequences of getting ill are pretty bad (i.e. the elderly, pregnant, infants and immunocompromised) it's probably not worth the risk.