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I used this recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fresh-lime-curd/. I added a lot of the hot liquid to temper the eggs and they looked good and then I added the mixture to the pot and whisked but the egg whites still cooked and I had to strain the curd to get it all out.

Is there a better way to avoid this from happening?

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It certainly sounds like the pot was just too hot - and since you say "pot"... were you using a double boiler? –  Jefromi May 25 '12 at 6:46
    
Yes sorry I was using double boiler and I turned it down and added about 2 cups of the hot liquid to the eggs to temper and it was all good until I combined it all –  Luz_Ramirez May 25 '12 at 7:17
    
Two cups? There's one cup of liquid plus a cup of sugar, so there shouldn't even have been two cups of hot liquid to begin with. If you added that much to the eggs to temper, are you really sure you didn't actually cook them then and just not notice? Even if not, if there was little liquid left in the double boiler when you poured it back in, you might well have cooked the bottom layer immediately. –  Jefromi May 25 '12 at 7:21
    
The recipe calls for two teaspoons, not two cups! –  BaffledCook May 25 '12 at 7:32
    
@BaffledCook: Two tablespoons, but yeah. "A little of it" not "all of it". –  Jefromi May 25 '12 at 7:51

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

To prevent this from happening, apart from what Jefromi says, check the temperature with a thermometer. Eggs start coagulating around 60ºC. If you keep the temperature around 55ºC you are pasteurizing the eggs at the same time.

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Thanks! I will keep these numbers in mind the next time I attempt curd –  Luz_Ramirez May 25 '12 at 15:10
    
You're welcome, of course. Harold McGee is the man. –  BaffledCook May 25 '12 at 15:45
    
-1 At 60ºC the curd will never thicken. Yes, McGee says that coagulation starts around 60ºC/140ºF (63ºC/140ºF for egg white and 65ºC/150ºF for the yolk). But he also notes that egg mixed with as much liquid and sugar as you need for a curd, raises the coagulation temperature to between 79 and 83ºC (175-185ºF). See McGee, On Cooking p93 (EGG-LIQUID MIXTURES/Dilution Demands Delicacy) –  Chris Steinbach Jun 23 '13 at 19:44

The general things to keep in mind are:

  • Don't mix a ton of the hot mixture into the eggs at once. Add a little at a time.

  • Don't use too high heat. It's better to be slow about this than to have scrambled eggs.

  • Don't overheat before you temper the eggs. Go only as far as the recipe says to. If it's too hot, you might be fine if you temper carefully, but then when you mix it all back together, push it over the edge and cook the egg.

  • Don't let the mixture in the double boiler get too hot while you're tempering the eggs. If you've got it running too hot, and you take out a lot of liquid, what's left can get hot fast, and then when you pour it back in, you might cook a bit of the egg before you can whisk and even out the temperature.

So in summary: err on the side of too slow and too cool. The worst that can happen is that you have to stir for a long time while it thickens.

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