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Jan 14, 2014 01:35 PM

Will lemon juice curdle cream?

My buddy will be coming to visit my wife and me in another couple of weeks. He's a bachelor and can't make toast. He always rave about a lemon garlic chicken stroganoff dish he had in Hawaii. I want to make my own version of that.

I am planning on roasting lots of garlic and using plenty of my home preserved lemons for intense garlic-lemon flavor, and using that in a chicken stock based sauce with some cream. Question: will the cream curdle from the preserved lemon, and any fresh squeezed lemon I might add?


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  1. It might. If you have the time, why not try a dry run.

    6 Replies
    1. re: 512window

      I had the same thought... do a dry run. try creating how you think it should be and see how it turns out. (That's what I do.)

      Another option is to see if you can find out what restaurant your friend had the chicken "stroganoff" and see if you can at least get a description off of their menu. Maybe he is calling it stroganoff , but it was a completely different dish. As somebody else noted, stroganoff typically contains sour cream, not just cream. It also often contains mushrooms. So maybe it was a creamy chicken and mushroom dish with lemon and garlic and he just thinks of it as stroganoff?

      Are your home preserved lemons stored in salt?

      1. re: Springhaze2

        I should point out that "stroganoff" is my own short hand, based on his description of an intensely lemony and garlicly chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce over egg noodles.

        I preserve my lemons in salt.

        1. re: EarlyBird

          Yeah, I would not use the term "stroganoff" in that sense. It really has a totally different flavor profile.

          Anyway, I make up some dishes with chicken, lemon, mushrooms, garlic, onions in a cream sauce, occasionally. I have never had a problem with the lemon curdling the cream. Here is a basic recipe, which I am linking to show the technique of mixing the chicken stock, lemon juice and cream together, before heating it. Use fresh lemon juice and zest in the first part of the recipe.

          Dishes like this are often finished with capers to enhance the lemony flavor. I suggest slicing a little bit of your preserved lemons instead of using capers. If you want to up the garlic flavor, use fresh garlic in the cooking of the dish and finish the sauce with some chunky smashed roasted garlic. (leaving chunks of roasted garlic.)

          Roasted garlic alone is pretty mild compared to fresh garlic. So I would use both. (I happen to love, love garlic.)

          Also take into consideration using thighs which have more flavor than breasts. And maybe cutting the chicken into cubes or wide strips, since you plan to serve it over noodles.

          If you want to really impress, why not make your own noodles or pasta?

          1. re: Springhaze2

            Great information, Springhaze. Thanks a million. We're exactly on the same page. I was also going to use capers, but perhaps just the little slices of preserved lemons would be better as you state.


            1. re: EarlyBird

              Want to send me some preserved lemons? I love them!

              Please report back on how the dish turns out. I'm curious.

    2. Acids can curdle milk products. However, it may take significant amount of lemon before this takes place in your pot. In addition, minor curdle may not show.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Yes, and I always chuckle about how I found out the hard way: I was a completely naive 17 year old flying to the South Pacific on Air New Zealand. I drank black coffee and rarely drank tea, and only iced tea.

        The kind airline attendant came by and offered tea. I thought, "Sure, when in Rome..." Then she sweetly asked, "would you like milk in that?" I looked at her as if she had two heads and said, "of COURSE not!" Then the guy next to me said it was common. I added milk. Then added a big squirt of lemon...and produced cottage cheese.


        1. re: EarlyBird

          :) I add milk to my tea. I thought I invented that.

          Ah, I didn't even think about this, but you are right.... whenever I add milk to my tea, I don't add lemon. I only add lemon to my sweet tea which never have milk. I wonder why I develop these habits.

          I honestly think a little bit of lemon won't hurt. You are adding lemon juice to a huge pot, not a small cup.

      2. Stroganoff's creaminess usually comes from sour cream added at the end, so I'm not sure about using cream in this recipe.
        If you use sour cream to finish, add one egg yolk to the sour cream, then temper some hot liquid to it before adding the sour cream mixture to the dish.
        This helps prevent curdling.
        I've used this method, and it works, although I'm not sure with as much acid as might be in your dish. But, perhaps using the preserved lemons vs. lots of fresh lemon juice will mitigate the high acid problem.
        Check out this CI's recipe for Chicken Fricasse- it's where I got the technique from.


        3 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          Thanks very much. I'll check out the link. I appreciate the information.

          As I pointed out above, "stroganoff" may be the wrong description (mine) for what he described as a creamy sauce with lots of garlic and lemon.

            1. re: Alan408

              I'm not sure if there was cheese in it.

        2. Maybe you could try getting the lemon flavor from using the zest rather than the juice.

          1. Lemon juice doesn't curdle warm cream when added for lemon posset. Not sure if the sugar in the cream is the reason for that, though.

            1 Reply
            1. re: emily

              Okay, I just learned was a "posset" is. I had never even heard the term before. Interesting.