Lemon Curd

Variously called lemon curd, lemon cheese, lemon jelly, and lemon filling, this delicious custard appears at the breakfast table on toast, between the layers of cakes, and on top of lemon squares, a favorite Lowcountry cookie originally made with shortbread. It is a staple of the traditional kitchen here, a favored gift at Christmas. In antebellum days, lemon and orange trees were grown on many of the plantations, with orangeries built to house the frost-sensitive plants in winter.


  • juice ( cup) and grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces


Measure the juice from 2 average lemons. If you don’t have cup , squeeze more juice from another lemon. In the top of a double boiler or in a wide stainless-steel mixing bowl that will fit snugly on top of a saucepan, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and the lemon juice and zest with a wire whisk. Put the bowl on top of a simmering water bath and continue to whisk until the mixture is very thick and light-colored, about 7 minutes. Remove from the fire and gradually whisk in the butter, a little bit at a time. The mixture should be bright yellow and very silky. Store covered in the refrigerator. Keeps up to a month, but you’ll eat it more quickly than that.