How long does lemon curd last and how to store it?

Here’s everything you need to know about homemade and store-bought lemon curd. Learn how long it lasts, how to store it, and when to throw it away.

Just whipped up some lemon curd and want to know how long it’s good for? Or maybe you’re trying to figure out how long you have until your store-bought lemon curd goes bad after you open it?

So how long does lemon curd last?

the short answer

An unopened store-bought lemon curd will keep for weeks after the printed date and about a week after opening. Homemade lemon curd keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.

That is the gist of it.

Interested in learning a little more? This is what we discuss below:

  • more information on the shelf life of lemon curd
  • storage suggestions
  • signs of deterioration and when to throw yours away

Let’s jump right in.

Warm lemon curd covered with plastic wrap
Warm lemon curd covered with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a “skin”

How long does lemon curd last?

Pantry Fridge
Store-bought lemon curd, unopened Best before + 1 – 2 months
Store-bought lemon curd, opened ~7 – 10 days
Homemade Lemon Curd ~7 – 10 days
Lemon Curd Shelf Life

Homemade Lemon Curd

Homemade lemon curd lasts 7-10 days from the time you cook it. If a week or so isn’t enough for your needs, you can freeze the spread for a few months.

Now, that 7 to 10 days is a rough estimate. That’s because almost every other recipe has its own storage time recommendation. Here are some examples:

While the National Center for Home Food Preservation seems to be the most reliable source, their recommendation is by far the longest, which is why I don’t trust it 100%.

Also, every recipe is slightly different, and the amount of sugar or lemon juice used (both powerful preservatives) probably affects shelf life as well.

So I suggest playing it safe and having a moderate storage time of 7-10 days. Of course, if that period isn’t long enough for your needs, you can always freeze the lemon curd.

(It’s worth noting that leftover lemon curd lasts longer than leftover fresh lemon juice. read more: How long does lemon juice last?)

Mix butter in lemon curd
Mix butter in lemon curd

Store Bought Lemon Curd

Store-bought lemon curd comes with a shelf life of a year or more and easily lasts past the expiration date printed on the label. Once opened, it will keep for 7-10 days unless otherwise stated on the label.

Commercial lemon curd is canned and keeps for quite a while, like all canned foods. And since canned goods stay safe for months (if not years) after the printed date, lemon curd should keep for at least a couple of weeks (or months) after its date.

In other words, “expired” canned lemon curd should be perfectly fine for quite some time. Just check it thoroughly before use to make sure it’s not broken.

After opening the jar, you get at least a week of storage time.

While that’s the same period I recommend for homemade lemon curd, it doesn’t necessarily apply to every jar out there. Maybe yours has a slightly different ingredient list and lasts a bit longer. Read the label to find out if that is the case.

Pancakes covered with lemon cream
Pancakes covered with lemon cream

Does lemon curd need to be refrigerated?

Homemade lemon curd requires refrigeration at all times. For store-bought lemon curd, you can store it at room temperature as long as it’s not opened. After opened, it has to be refrigerated.

As I mentioned in the shelf life section, commercial lemon curd is canned, so there is no need to store it in the refrigerator before opening.

But once you open the jar, it’s no different than homemade lemon curd, which means you have to chill it in the fridge.

Besides that, here are some tips on how to store lemon curd:

  • make sure it is well sealed and refrigerated when not in use
  • when scooping, always use clean spoons
  • freeze if you know you won’t finish it within a week or so

That’s all. As you can see, storing lemon curd is not rocket science.

How to Store Lemon Curd – An Airtight Container
How to Store Lemon Curd – An Airtight Container

How do you know if lemon curd is bad?

Discard your lemon curd when:

  • It’s moldy. When you see mold on the surface, it’s time for the extension to go.
  • It is open for more than 2 weeks. If yours is homemade and is open for 2 weeks, it is better to play it safe and throw it away. The same goes for store-bought lemon curd that’s open a couple days longer than the vendor recommends.
  • It smells or tastes bad. This one is pretty obvious: if the spread smells funny or the flavor has changed, that’s a sure sign to throw it out.

Now, those are the typical signs of deterioration, but there are a few more things worth discussing here.

lumpy texture

If your homemade lemon curd is lumpy from the start, it’s likely that you overcooked your eggs. That doesn’t make the pasta spoil, but it would be better without those lumps.

Two easy ways to get rid of them is to run the spread through a strainer which will catch those clumps or blend the desert until smooth.

That said, if your lemon curd was perfectly smooth and now it’s lumpy, assume it’s gone bad and throw it away.

Metallic Aftertaste

Lemon juice is quite acidic, and as you probably know, acid reacts with metal.

That metallic taste you are experiencing is due to the lemon juice reacting with a metal container that you cooked the curd in. In most cases, it is a metal skillet or a metal double boiler.

(That same reaction between lemon juice and metal can turn spread green.)

While the damage is already done, you can avoid this problem in the future by using non-metallic equipment, for example, a glass container in a metal pot that acts as a makeshift double boiler.

Now, the amount of metal that seeped into the curd is probably minimal, and eating it is unlikely to make you sick or negatively affect your health. But, and it’s a big but, that curd will still have that disgusting aftertaste.

In short, it is up to you to decide if you are going to use that paste as a spread or throw it away. If that aftertaste is very subtle, you can probably just ignore it. But if it completely spoils the taste, the lemon curd is finished.

Besides, the same reaction that causes the aftertaste is why you shouldn’t store cut lemon in foil.

Related: How to store lemons?

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