One of Tiptree's popular products - particularly in France - is not strictly a ``preserve'' at all, but it is very British. This is Lemon Curd (traditionally called ``Lemon Cheese''). The Tiptree version of this smooth citric delight (for spreading on bread) is, as sales manager Ian Thurgood says, made ``properly'' - that is, its ingredients include butter, not margarine, and eggs straight from the hen rather than processed. It also has no preservatives or coloring. Lemon Curd - if you have time - is also extremely easy to make at home. Here's the recipe I use, adapted from ``Mrs. Beaton's Cookery Book'': LEMON CURD 6 eggs 6 ounces butter 1 pound granulated sugar 4 lemons, rind and juice

Whisk the eggs well in a bowl. Break up the butter and add it, plus the sugar and lemon juice, to the eggs. Add as much grated lemon rind as you like to give the curd a texture and bite that no manufacturer - not even Tiptree - seems able to achieve. Boil water in a pan large enough to hold the bowl, and set the bowl in the pan of boiling water (you may find it simpler to use a double-boiler). Keep the water boiling. Stir the mixture until it turns creamy-thick - about 15 minutes. Pour - with anticipatory relish - into sterilized, warm, glass jam-jars. Makes about four 16-ounce jars. (about 3 pounds). Cover, cool, and refrigerate.

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