Lemon curd is a lovely spread of British origin that is perfect on tea biscuits or simple buttermilk pancakes. It can also be used to make dreamy pies or lemon layer cakes. This treat is easy to make with only eggs, sugar, butter and lemons. The simplicity of this sublime spread makes it a delight to cook and to share.
I have had the pleasure of making lemon curd with many groups of people over the years. I once co-hosted a lemon curd party with my sister. We were in our twenties and canning was sexy. (We actually had t-shirts printed up that said “Canning is Sexy.”) Of all the canning parties we threw, that zesty gathering has remained everyone’s favorite. A few years ago I was asked to teach canning classes at a small local grocery store. My favorite class was, of course, my lemon curd class. It was a delicious success. I hope the attendees have made many more batches since then.
I am always happy to share my love of lemon curd with others. It is one of my absolute favorite foods: rich, tart, buttery, and heavenly. I hope you enjoy this divine spread as much as I do.
The recipe will make approximately 2 & 1/2 pints. It can be stored in the refrigerator for one week, frozen for up to a year, or canned and stored for up to 3 months. The canning instructions are included after the recipe. If you are going to can your lemon curd, please, scroll down and read the first step of the canning process so you will be ready to go straight from cooking to canning.
- 2 & 1/2 cups fine sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon zest
- 1 cup lemon juice *
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter chilled and thinly sliced
- 9 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- Zest approximately 9 lemons to get 1/2 cup lemon zest.
- Combine zest and 2 & 1/2 cups sugar and set aside.
- Separate 9 egg yolks and whisk together with the 2 whole eggs. (You could use all the extra egg whites in a meringue or an angel food cake to pair with the lemon curd.)
- Juice lemons to have 1 cup.*
- Bring water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler. (If you need help assembling follow this link.) You need a fairly large double boiler or bowl to contain this mixture. You will combine most of your ingredients in the bowl or upper pot and place it on top once the water is boiling. Do not allow the water level to reach the bottom of the bowl on top.
- In the bowl that will fit on top of the double boiler, combine the eggs and sugar with zest. Stir until combined and then add the 1 cup lemon juice. Whisk the mixture for 1 minute.
- Take care of anything that might cause you to be distracted for the next 25 minutes; Feeding kids? Making phone calls? Starting laundry? Clear your immediate schedule because the pot of luscious lemony goodness you are about to stir will need your love and total devotion for the next 25 minutes.
- Place the bowl of well whisked ingredients on top of the boiler and start to slowly stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
- Stir very slowly and carefully, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Don’t leave the double boiler unstirred for more than 45 seconds. If you do notice any lumps form, don’t stress over them. You will be straining the curd when you are finished to remove the zest and lumps.
- After 20-25 minutes of stirring, the mixture will start to thicken. It should thinly coat the utensil that you are stirring with. It will continue to thicken as it cools so don’t expect a very thick consistency, yet.
- Working with a few slices at a time, stir in 3/4 cup thinly sliced unsalted butter into the mixture.
- When the butter has all melted, turn off stove. Wait a moment, then very carefully remove the top of the double boiler and place on a protected surface (a towel or trivet).
- Pour the mixture through a metal sieve strainer.
- Chill in the refrigerator for an hour before using. The lemon curd will set once it has been chilled.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, freeze for up to a year, or can.
- This is not food that can be stored for long periods of time after canning. The shelf life is only 3 months. But, it is a great way to be able to share your lemon curd with others. Be sure to label it with an expiration date.
- Have hot sterilized jars sitting in a water-bath canner or large pot to be used as a water-bath canner. Make sure that the water level is 2″ higher than the top of the jars. When you are ready to fill them, set the hot jars on a towel.
- Fill the hot jars with the still hot, strained curd leaving 1/2 inch head space.
- Clean the rim of the jars with a damp paper towel and apply 2 piece metal canning lids. Please note that new BPA free canning lids no longer need to be boiled. Simply wash the new lids prior to use.
- Process in boiling water-bath canner for 15 minutes. (For higher elevations: 1001-6000 ft, 20 minutes; 6000ft and above, 25 minutes)
- Remove from canner and let the jars rest, lid side up, undisturbed for 24 hours.
- Label with a bold expiration date set for 3 months from canning date.
*The National Center for Food Preservation stance on lemon juice is that “fresh lemon juice can vary in acidity and is not recommended. Bottled lemon juice is used to standardize acidity. ” However, we use pH strips in our kitchen to ensure that products are well below the standard pH 4.6 for high acid foods. And for this recipie we used a digital pH meter after processing to see that our lemon curd was pH 3.22. If you wish to take the tried and tested route you can subsitute 1 cup of bottled lemon juice for the fresh squeezed.