I’ve been making a lot of citrus curd lately – what with the trees in the garden producing orange (sweet and sour), pomelos, lemons and mandarines. After the umpteenth batch of curd, it dawned on me that curd is, in fact, a most unlovely word to describe such creamy sweet-tart fruit custard. I began to wonder how it came into being – why “curd”?

Well, more unlovely words appeared when I looked curd up in the dictionary.

16c[entury]. metathesis of crud (mid-14c.), originally “any coagulated substance,” probably from O[ld].E[nglish]. crudan

Okay, so we have curd derived by transposing the letters u and r from an earlier form, crud, which in turn is from an even earlier word, crudan meaning coagulated substance. Definitely unappetising words. It also turns out that the word does not have a root in either the Germanic or Romance languages. It is probably Gaelic, from the word gruth, which possibly goes back to a (reconstructed) Proto-Indo European word *greut, yet more unlovely gutteral sounding words.

Of course, curd is primarily used in relation to cheesemaking, but the word, in England, was applied to fruit “custards” (particularly made with lemon) as early as the mid-19th century. Prior to that, it was called lemon cheese. Despite its label, my citrus curd is a lovely substance – sweet-tart and creamy.

Most of the citrus curd I’ve manufactured lately has been converted into luscious ice creams. Because of the high egg content in the curd and because my Sicilian style milky-custard base are both high in those essential emulsifiers, ice creams produced are very creamy. If you don’t believe me, see my “science” explanations in an earlier post, The Art and Science of Gelato Making.


Mandarin-Orange Curd Ice Cream
A great way to impress guests, particularly if made with your own mandarins and oranges. A three stage process – curd, milky custard and putting it all together. Of course, it can be made with any citrus fruit, signularly or in combination.


  • 150ml juice from mandarins and oranges (about 75ml each)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 75g butter


  • 400ml whole milk
  • 100ml cream
  • 100g sugar
  • 3 rounded Tablespoons corn flour/starch
  • zest from one orange

The Ice Cream

  • Mandarin-Orange curd (above)
  • Custard (above)
  • 60g honey
  • 1-2 Tablespoons orange liquor such as Cointreau

Make the curd first by putting the citrus juice in a pot with the sugar and butter. Heat the juice on low until the butter melts. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl. When the butter has melted, add a little of the warm juice mixture to the beaten eggs in the bowl. Whisk the eggs and add this mixture to the remainder of the juice in the pot. Continue heating the mixture while whisking or stirring. The mixture will begin to thicken. Just as it begins to bubble, remove from heat and place it through a seive to remove any of the egg white solids that might have formed while it was heating. Place in the refrigerator to cool and continue to thicken.


Next, make the custard. Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Measure out the milk and cream and add a little of this to the sugar- cornstarch mixture to moisten it and to prevent the starch from clumping. Place the milk, cream, and sugar-starch mixture in a pot place on low heat. Zest an orange and finely chop it before adding this to the milky mixture. Continually stir the mixture until it begins to thicken and just begins to gently boil. Remove from heat and let it cool.


Mix the cooled curd (which should be about 350 to 400g) to the cooled custard. Add the honey  and the liqueur. Stir and place this in the refrigerator until it is cold.


Then, process it according to the instuctions of your ice cream machine. When finished churning, place in a container and let it firm up in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or better over night.

Before serving, remove from freezer and let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes so that it can be scooped with ease. A small amount goes a long way with this ice cream as it is very rich and creamy – and packed with citrus flavours. By the way – chocolate sauce is a perfect accompaniment to orange flavours.


  1. If I’m repeating myself I apologise, WP is not cooperating. Your ice cream looks seriously good Debi I must give it a go with lactose free dairy products. I’ve been giving my churn a workout too making delicious fruit sorbets and Sicilian gelatos.


  2. As much as I love curd and ice cream, I’ve never though of combining the two. Once the weather warms a bit — like goes above freezing — I’d love to give this a whirl. Sounds delicious, Debi. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Great recipe. I never thought to combine curd or ice cream either. I’ve been eating lemon curd a lot lately on lemon ricotta pancakes and it’s so refreshing in winter. Great etymology of the word curd. It’s not that appetizing a word, but the thing itself is so delicious.

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  4. I find curds take really well to stevia, for a wonderful low-sugar treat. I’ve never tried making ice-cream with it, but I think it’s a great idea. I have tried mixing it with Greek yogurt sweetened with stevia and layering fruit – all very good. When you start with curd, everything tastes better. I agree, curd could use a trendier name…


  5. Hmmm, certainly not crud. I will keep this one up my sleeve for the mandarin/orange season. Just made a curd from mango and passionfruit- it was so overwhelmingly sweet, I’m not sure that I want to ever taste it again.This one sounds nice for winter, even without turning it into icecream.


  6. […] The first thing that struck me about our garden here in Athens was the large number of orange trees. I was told that most of these trees are a variety known as νεραντζιά (nerantzia) and was warned that they were bitter, not for eating – that is, peeling and eating raw. These bitter types of oranges are hardier and do better in the slightly cooler Attic climate than sweet oranges, Citrus sinensis, which grow well in the Peloponnese and areas further south. There are, however, several sweet orange trees also growing in the garden, but they tend to produce small slightly sour fruits – naturally, perfect for making orange curd. […]


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