How to Make Lemon Curd, Home-Canned - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

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Yield: 4 half-pint jars

Click here for a PDF print version

Making and canning your own Lemon curd (or Lime curd)( is easy and safe with this recipe!

Lemon curd is a traditional British dessert topping, similar to custards (which as essentially, melted ice cream). It is made from lemon or lime juice, egg white, egg yolk, butter, and sugar. Lemon Curd tends to have more lemony flavor than lemon custard. Fresh lemon custard only lasts a week in the refrigerator but canned, it can have a room temperature shelf life of approximately 3 to 4 months. If you don't mind the darkening that occurs, it can have a shelf life of up to 1 year, still retaining safety and flavor.



  •  2 1/2 cups sugar (superfine is best, but you can use regular granulated, see note 1)
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime zest (see step 3)
  • 1 cup bottled lemon or lime juice (not fresh, see note 2)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 4 large whole eggs


  •  Grater (or if you actually own one, a "lemon zester"- but don't tell anyone you one one of these.  They will think you're a kitchen shopaholic and schedule an intervention)
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)t)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)t)
  • At least 1 large pot
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Ball jars (Publix, Kroger, other grocery stores and some "big box" stores carry them - about $8 per dozen half-quart jars (i.e., pint)including the lids and rings)
  • whisk,

  • double boiler (See note 3, if you don't have a double boiler)

  • strainer,

  • kitchen thermometer,

  • mixing bowl,

  • spatula

  • 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars of apple pie filling after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates) You CAN use a large pot instead, but the canners are deeper, and have a rack top make lifting the jars out easier. If you plan on canning every year, they're worth the investment.

Directions - Step by Step to Home-Canned Lemon Curd

Step 1 - Wash the jars and lidsCanning jars in the dishwasher

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used. Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot apple pie filling.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Step 2 - Get the canner prepared

Fill boiling water canner with enough water to cover the filled jars by 1 to 2 inches. Use a thermometer to preheat the water to 180°F by
the time filled jars are ready to be added. Lemon curd is sensitive to heat, so unlike most canning directions this one requires careful attention to keeping the temperature at a specific point. 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 jars are added, the process 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 to 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.


Step 3 - Zest up your lemons

I hate that term. "Zest your lemons". It sounds so queer.  I mean who "zests" lemons? Why don't they say "grate off the top yellow part of the lemon peel"? That's what you need to do. So zest up a half cup of lemon peel,  That could take a half dozen lemons, but you can still use the rest of the lemon for other recipes.

Step 4 - Mix the lemon zest and sugar

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.

Step 5 - heat the double boiler

Heat water in the bottom pan of the double boiler until it boils gently. The water should not boil vigorously or touch 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.

Step 6 - Whisk the egg yolks, eggs, sugar and lemon juice in the double boiler

With the top of the double boiler away from the stove, on the counter top or table, whisk the 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.

Step 7 - Now heat the top of the double boiler

 Place the top of the double boiler over boiling 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. Using your thermometer, continue cooking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Step 8 - Remove from heat and continue stirring

 Remove the double boiler pan from the stove and place on a protected surface, such as a dish cloth or towel on the counter top. Continue to
stir gently until the curd thickens (about 5 minutes).

Step 9 - Strain the curd

Strain curd through a mesh strainer into a glass or stainless steel bowl; discard the collected zest.

Step 10 - Fill the jars

 Fill hot strained curd into the clean, hot half pint jars, leaving 1/2-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.

Step 11 - "process" the jars in the water bath canner

 Process in the prepared boiling water canner according to the recommendations in below.

Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Recommended process time for Canned Lemon Curd in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints 15 min 20 25

Shelf Life: For best quality, store in a cool, dark place (away from light). Plan to use canned lemon curd within 3 to 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 1 year without quality changes when thawed. Package in freezer containers after straining and cooling to room temperature. To thaw, place container in a refrigerator at 40°F or lower for 24 hours before intended use. After thawing, consume within 4 weeks.

Preparation Notes:

1. For best results, if superfine sugar is not available, run granulated sugar through a grinder or food processor for 1 minute, let settle, and use in place of superfine sugar. Do not use powdered sugar.

2. Bottled lemon juice is used to standardize acidity. Fresh lemon juice can vary in acidity and is not recommended.

3. If a double boiler is not available, a substitute can be made with a large bowl or saucepan that can fit partway down into a saucepan of a smaller diameter. If the bottom pan has a larger diameter, the top bowl or pan should have a handle(s) that can rest on the rim of the lower pan.


For Lime Curd, use the same recipe but substitute 1 cup bottled lime juice and ¼ cup fresh lime zest for the lemon juice and zest.

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


This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2006.

and the Ball Blue Book.



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