Lemon Butter


A recipe in an 1877 cookbook for Apple Butter called for a barrel of new cider and three bushels of apples. At a loss to make that a workable size for a family, I kept searching and saw a recipe for Lemon Butter.

To my knowledge, I’ve never tasted this or even seen this sold in stores.

I combined ½ cup of sugar with two egg yolks. The zest and juice of one lemon was added to this mixture and placed in a kettle.

I used 4 tablespoons of butter for an amount “the size of two eggs.” In reality, it was probably twice that amount but we modern cooks love to cut down on fat and calories. I hoped it was enough.

img_2364The unmelted butter was added to the kettle. The instructions were to boil the mixture ten minutes so I set the burner to a medium high heat.

Bad idea.

Even with constant stirring, what started out as a pleasant yellow batter quickly scorched. After five minutes of boiling, the contents of the pan more resembled chocolate pudding. Needless to say, the whole mess ended up in the garbage with the pan soaking in the sink.

img_2368My second try saw a couple of changes. The ratio of ingredients was kept exactly the same. This time I creamed the sugar and butter together first. Beaten egg yolks were then added. After that, the zest and juice of one lemon were stirred into the mixture.

The burner started on a medium heat until the lemon butter began to bubble gently. Stirring constantly, the heat was lowered to maintain gentle simmering every time it started boiling harder. I cooked it for five minutes.

The butter didn’t scorch this time. I poured it into a pint-sized jar as it apparently keeps a long time. As you can see from the photo, it did not make a large quantity. The recipe suggested using lemon butter in tarts; this quantity would make one small tart.

img_2371Though the thick butter tastes delicious, I will double the butter added to the recipe the next time I make it. The lemon juice enhances the flavor yet loosens the batter. The extra butter should improve the consistency.

Good luck! I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.