Lemon Curd


January 25, 2022

Citrus plants are 7-million-year-old members of the rue family sporting glossy green leaves and leathery rind-bound fruit with segmented, juicy pouches for flesh. They thrive in tropical/subtropical regions (sorry, Maine) yet are fairly cold-tolerant, with most hitting their stride in the mild season. The reprieve from the long, hot days renders peak flavor and balance in the fruit’s skin and flesh, providing a burst in the warm-color gradient to lessen the doldrums of winter for the rest of the world. All of the citrus fruits out there—your tangerines, Key limes, and Cara Caras, natch, but also the less pedestrian sunquats, lemandarins, and Buddha’s hands—were derived from just four ancient species: citron, pomelo, mandarin, and papeda (e.g., yuzu). The many varieties today fall into the juicing, confection, perfume, and enjoying-straight-up camps.

Our adventures in citrus started with Jenn started going to California every January to source gorgeous Organic lemons, which she’d bring home for a community canning day. Their juice is a versatile staple in the Turtle Rock kitchen, lending flavor, aroma, balance, and preservative properties to so many products. We can’t stress seasonality enough; while you can buy citrus year-round, its peak is late December to early March. What you’ll find in mounds at the grocery store was likely picked prematurely to maximize shelf-life and will lack balance, juiciness, color, rich aromatics, proper texture, and may have off-flavors from artificial ripening. Ask your local co-op to source a bulk order or do some research on sustainable small farms in California, Arizona, and Florida before placing a mail order. Find out even more about citrus and how to make marmalade in our orange zine.

 Lemon curd drizzled over pound cake on red plate

Lemon Curd 

Turtle Rock's extra eggy, indulgently rich curd should be generously cascaded over cakes, ice cream, scones, crepes, parfaits, and tarts. We suggest keeping one jar and giving the other to a good friend.

Yield: Two half-pints (can easily be scaled up)


1/3 pound egg yolks (9-10 eggs)
1/3 pound lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
2/3 pound sugar
1/3 pound butter (1 1/3 sticks), cubed and chilled

 Lemon curd mise en place


1) Cook yolks, lemon juice, and sugar together in a small pot over medium heat until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring continuously. We mean it; don’t let that curd scorch on the bottom! Cooking times will vary but you’re looking for your spoon/spatula to make a small indent in the curd when stirring (i.e., it doesn’t fill back in immediately).

Sugar, egg yolks, and lemon juice

Lemon curd cooking on the stove

2) Strain curd—to ensure you get any coagulated eggy bits—into a bowl with the chilled butter. Let sit about 30 seconds and then slowly stir until emulsified.

Straining the lemon curd through sieve

Hot strained curd with unemulsified butter

3) Transfer to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate immediately. Freeze or use within three months. (No canning this time—it only extends the shelf-life by a month so we don’t bother.)

Half-pint jar of lemon curd with swoop underneath on black brick


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