Canned Lemon Curd (SP 50-922)

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Yield: About 3–4 half-pint jars

  • 2½ cups superfine sugar1
  • ½ cup lemon zest (freshly zested), optional
  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice2
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into approximately ¾-inch pieces
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 4 large whole eggs

Special equipment needed

  • Lemon zester
  • Balloon whisk
  • 1½ quart double boiler3 (the top boiler pan should be at least 1½-quart volume)
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen thermometer measuring up to 180°F
  • Glass or stainless steel medium mixing bowl
  • Silicone spatula or cooking spoon
  • Equipment for boiling water canner


  1. Wash 4 half-pint canning jars with warm, soapy water. Rinse well; keep hot until ready to fill. Prepare canning lids according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. Fill boiling water canner with enough water to cover the filled jars by 1–2 inches. Use a thermometer to preheat the water to 180°F by the time filled jars are ready to be added.
    • Caution: Do not heat the water in the canner to more than 180°F before jars are added. If the water in the canner is too hot when the jars are added, the processing time will not be long enough. The time it takes for the canner to reach boiling after the jars are added is expected to be 25–30 minutes for this product. Process time starts after the water in the canner comes to a full boil over the tops of the jars.
  3. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl, stir to mix and set aside about 30 minutes. Pre-measure the lemon juice and prepare the chilled butter pieces.
  4. Heat water in the bottom pan of the double boiler until it boils gently. The water should not boil so vigorously that it touches the bottom of the top double boiler pan or bowl in which the curd is to be cooked. Steam produced will be sufficient for the cooking process to occur.
  5. In the top of boiler on the countertop or table, whisk egg yolks and whole eggs together until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar and zest, blending until well mixed and smooth. Blend in the lemon juice and then add the butter pieces to the mixture.
  6. Place the top of the double boiler pan over water in the bottom pan. Stir gently but continuously with a silicone spatula or cooking spoon to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  7. Remove the double boiler pan from the stove and place on a protected surface, such as a dishcloth or towel on the countertop. Continue to stir gently until the curd thickens (about 5 minutes). Strain curd through a mesh strainer into a glass or stainless steel bowl; discard collected zest.
  8. Fill hot strained curd into the clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.
  9. Adjust lids and process half pints in the prepared boiling water canner: 15 minutes at 0–1,000 feet, 20 minutes at 1,001–6,000 feet; 25 minutes above 6,000 feet. After processing, take canner off heat. Remove lids. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars
  10. Let cool undisturbed for 12–24 hours and check for seal.

Shelf life

Browning and/or separation way occur with longer storage.

For best quality, store in a cool, dark place (away from light). Plan to use canned lemon curd within 3–4 months. Browning and/or separation may occur with longer storage; discard any time these changes are observed.

Prepared lemon curd can also be frozen instead of canned for up to one year without quality changes when thawed. Package in freezer containers after straining and cooling to room temperature. To thaw, place the container in a refrigerator at 40°F or lower for 24 hours before intended use. After thawing, consume within 4 weeks. (See freezer lemon curd.)


For lime curd, use the same recipe but substitute 1 cup bottled lime juice and one-quarter cup fresh lime zest for the lemon juice and zest.

Other citrus or fruit curds are not recommended for canning at this time.

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Source: OSU Master Food Preserver Program

Developed at The University of Georgia, Athens, for the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Released by Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., Department of Foods and Nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

  • 1If superfine sugar is not available, run granulated sugar through a grinder or food processor for one minute, let settle and use in place of superfine sugar. Do not use powdered sugar.
  • 2Bottled lemon juice is used to standardize acidity. Fresh lemon juice can vary in acidity and is not recommended.
  • 3If a double boiler is not available, a substitute can be made with a larger bowl or saucepan that can fit partway down into a saucepan of a smaller diameter. If the bottom pan has a larger diameter, the bowl or pan should have a handle(s) that can rest on the rim of the lower pan. For more detailed information on boiling water canning, see "Using Boiling Water Canners"

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