Homemade Lime or Lemon Curd (and safe home canning of lemon curd)

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Lemon Curd (or Lime Curd) is a very versatile “fruit spread”.  You can use it as an alternative to jam or jelly, as a cake or pie filling, or as a custard-like topping to spoon over desserts.  It has a wonderful tart (yet sweet) flavor, and is thick and rich.  I like to use lemon curd as a topping on cheesecake, as a filling in lemon thumbprint cookies, or as a sauce to serve over a “last-minute dessert” of pound cake and vanilla ice cream.  Or, try my recipe for these cute flower shaped mini lemon tarts.

This recipe is based on the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s “safe” recipe for home canned lemon curd, published by the University of Georgia.  They recommend using bottled juice (for consistent acidity) – but bottled juice is yucky!!!  I use fresh lime or lemon instead, and make sure to use varieties that are high in acidity for safety.   If you are uncertain about the acid content of your limes or lemons, it’s safer to used the bottled juice.  (This recipe can be cut in half.)

You can also use this recipe to make orange or tangerine curd, but the acid content is too low for safe home-canning.  If you make orange or tangerine curd, make sure to use it right away, or store in the freezer.

Lime or Lemon Curd:

  • zest of 14 limes (or zest of 10 lemons)
  • 2 c. lime or lemon juice (about 14 limes or 10 lemons)
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 14 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted


  • large stock pot with metal rack
  • 9 half-pint canning jars with rings and new lids
  • tongs
  • double boiler, or a large stock pot & metal bowl
  • instant read thermometer

1.  Thoroughly wash and scrub the limes, then dry with a paper towel.  Using a citrus zester (or grater if you don’t have a zester), remove the zest from the limes, avoiding the bitter white pith.

2.  Cut the limes in half, and juice.  You will need 2 cups of lime juice total.

3.  Heat up your double boiler, or you can do what I do and place a large metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Add the sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks, salt, and lime zest.  Mix thoroughly with a whisk.

4.  As you continue whisking, add the lime juice.  Then add the melted butter.  (Wear oven mitts while doing this for safety)  Continue cooking the mixture slowly over the simmering water, while whisking.  Check with the thermometer regularly.  Once the mixture starts to thicken, and it reaches 170 degrees F, turn off the heat and remove the pan to a kitchen towel.

5.  Strain the curd into a clean glass or metal bowl.  This is to remove any curdled bits, egg chalaza, and the zest.  Your curd is now ready to can.  (If you prefer to refrigerate, use within a week, or freeze for up to 1 year.)

6.  To can the lemon curd, sterilize the jars, rings, tongs, and ladle in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Remove the hot jars to a kitchen towel, and fill with hot lemon curd, leaving a 1/2″ head space.  While filling the jars, soak the new lids in the hot water. Wipe the rims, top with the lids, and screw the rings down finger tight.

7.  Make sure the water in the stock pot (with metal rack in bottom) is no hotter than 180 degrees.  (Cool down with cold water if needed before proceeding.) Set the filled jars on the rack inside the stock pot.  Make sure the water covers the tops of the jars by at least one inch.  Turn on the heat, and bring the water back up to a boil (covered).  Once boiling, let the jars process for 15 minutes (if below 1000 ft).  You will need to add an extra 5 minutes processing time for every additional 5000 ft in elevation.

8.  When the processing time is up, carefully remove the hot jars to a kitchen towel.  Do not the disturb the jars – you will hear a “pinging” sound as the jars cool – this is part of the sealing process.  The next day, test for a proper seal by depressing the lid with a finger, making sure it does not move  up and down.  Use home canned curd within 3-4 months, separation or color changes may occur with longer storage.

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