A curd is a thick, sweet-tart type of sauce that is typically made with citrus juice, eggs and butter. It is known for being rich in flavor, with a very silky texture. I call it a sauce for lack of a better category, as curds are much thicker than most sauces (rather pudding-like).
This version of a curd almost doesn’t fit the description above at all. It uses no eggs, no butter and only a minimal amount of citrus. My curd is strawberry-based and is a great way to use up a lot of end-of-season fruits in an interesting way. It has the thick, smooth texture of a regular curd and it’s vegan. I was inspired after seeing the vegan mango curd at Buttermilk and Pinecones. Curds that are based with a fruit other than citrus are uncommon (and I love mango), but since I’ve made curd-like puddings that happen to be vegan before myself, it didn’t surprise me too much that the idea would work so beautifully.
This recipe is quite easy and requires very few ingredients. It starts with fresh strawberries which are pureed with sugar, then added to a lime juice (lemon can be used) and cornstarch mixture. The cornstarch is the thickening element of this curd, while eggs are the thickening element of a traditional curd. This isn’t really all that surprising a substitution, since cornstarch is frequently used as an egg replacer (or partial egg replacer) in other vegan recipes. It actually works out especially well, since there is no additional flavor (the egg) to detract from the strawberries. The taste of fresh berries is definitely the star here and the lime juice just adds a nice accent to brighten it up.
The texture is perhaps a tiny bit less smooth than that of a curd which uses juice, as opposed to a fruit puree. I strained my curd twice -once going into the saucepan and once coming out – to try and get as smooth a texture as possible. I know someone will ask if this can be made with frozen strawberries, but I must admit that I think it will turn out best with fresh berries. They’ll have a more vibrant color and probably a better flavor. If you try to use frozen berries, be sure to defrost them completely before working with them.
Vegan Strawberry Curd
15-oz. fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/2 cup sugar (I think you could get away with less, though)
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
5 tsp cornstarch
Combine strawberries and sugar in a food processor and whizz until very smooth.
Whisk together lime juice and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to strawberry mixture. Puree until mixture is as smooth as possible, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Strain mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until it comes just to a boil. Stir very frequently. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly, until somewhat thickened. Strain again into a heatproof container and let cool to room temperature.
Store in the refrigerator until cold before serving.
Serve with scones, english muffins or even try as a topping on ice cream or cake!
Makes about 2 cups.