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Normally lemon curd is one of those things that you can’t can. You can keep it in the fridge for a few weeks (if it lasts that long without being eaten!) but you can’t keep it on the shelf. Because- EGGS. As a general rule you can’t can foods which contain eggs. A notable exception being pickled eggs, of course.
But I have kilos of lemons! I’m sorry, but I can’t go past a tray of lemons for $10. That would be insanity 😉 And to my mind, lemons mean lemon curd. They just do.
Which is how I found myself wanting to can jars and jars of lemon curd for Christmas gifts this year. And so began my search for a recipe safe for canning.
As luck would have it, it didn’t actually take me too long. Many recipes can be bottled then frozen. Which is fine if you’re just making curd for yourself. But I wanted a shelf stable recipe so I could put the jars under the Christmas tree. And Uni of Georgia have developed and tested one which is shelf stable for 12 months. How fabulous is that.
Now I’m going to confess, I changed the recipe a little. I always do. I can’t help it. I feel the need to put my stamp on food. And their recipe called for bottled lemon juice. Aside from the fact that the whole reason I am making lemon curd is because I have lemons coming out the wazoo, bottled lemon juice just doesn’t taste the same. Quite frankly, I think it makes revolting curd. So I’ve used fresh lemon juice.
The reason for using bottled lemon juice in canning recipes is to ensure the acidity levels are right. For food to be safely preserved, that is so that it is an environment hostile to nasty germs, it needs to be acidic. It’s tough to be sure of that when using non-standard ingredients which is why the recipe calls for bottled lemon juice- a standardised product. I am confident my lemons are acidic enough so I decided I was comfortable canning with fresh lemons (more info here) and then made doubly sure to exactly follow the correct canning temps and times. If you don’t know that your lemons are acidic enough, freeze your curd or use bottled juice.
- glass bowl
- metal bowl
- waterbath canner
- 4 half pint jars with lids and rings
- candy thermometer
- metal strainer
- lemon juicer
- 2.5 cups raw castor sugar
- zest of 3 lemons
- 1 cup of lemon juice
- 170g unsalted butter- chilled and cut into cubes
- 7 large free range egg yolks
- 7 large free range eggs whole
- Pre-measure all of your ingredients.
- Wash your jars and rings in hot, soapy water, rinse clean and dry well. Put in the oven on its lowest temperature setting to keep warm. We’re not using the oven to sterilise, just to keep the jars warm so they don’t crack when you put the hot curd in. Your lids just need to be washed, dried and set aside.
- Prepare your waterbath pot. Don’t let it heat higher than 80C before putting your jars in. This is to keep the canning time correct for safety.
- Place sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and stir together. Whisk together whole eggs and yolks in a separate bowl.
- Prepare a double boiler. If you’ve never done this before it is just a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently boiling water. You don’t want the water to touch the bottom of the glass bowl so check your water level. Start the water boiling while you mix your ingredients in the glass bowl on the bench.
- Place your eggs in the glass bowl and slowly add you sugar and zest mix, whisking constantly so you don’t form lumps. Once all of the sugar mix is incorporated, add in the lemon juice slowly in the same fashion. When the mix is smooth, add in the cubed butter and move the glass bowl to the saucepan.
- Stir your mixture constantly over the double boiler. You only need to be gently moving it so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the bowl. When the mix reaches 80C take it off and keep stirring on the bench until the curd thickens. This will take 5-10 minutes. Strain your curd into a metal bowl to remove the zest.
- Pour your curd into your jars. Leave 1.25cm headspace (from the top of the jar to the top of the curd). Wipe your jar rims clean, put on the lids and screw on the sleeves. Set your jars onto the rack in your waterbath pot and turn on the heat. The water level should be 5cm above the top of the jars.
- Heat the waterbath to boiling and then set your timer for 15 minutes (adjust for altitude if necessary but for most people in Australia that isn’t going to be an issue).
- Remove the jars and set on the bench. Listen for those glorious pings as the jars seal. Leave them sitting on the bench for 24 hours then double check your seals. Any that haven’t sealed you need to refrigerate and use straightaway. The rest you can safely store in a cool, dark cupboard for 4 months
Happy Canning xx
A few notes:
- If you don’t want to waterbath these you can follow until step 8 and then freeze for 12 months.
- If you notice any discolouration or separation of your curd, don’t eat it.
- Once you open a jar, you MUST refrigerate the curd and eat within 4 weeks.
- I use raw castor sugar in my recipes because I think it has better flavour and also because it retains the molasses which is the somewhat healthy part of sugar. This does make my curd darker, so please do expect that. If you prefer, you can substitute regular castor sugar.
- Likewise, using freerange eggs, especially from backyard hens, can alter the colour of your curd because they tend to have more vibrant yolk colour due to their diet.
- This is my Australianised version of the tested recipe from University of Georgia. You can find the original recipe here: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/lemon_curd.html