Lemon curd is a tart, sweet spread made from lemon juice, eggs, sugar, and butter. It has a smooth, creamy texture and bright lemon flavor that makes it delicious on scones, toast, or spooned over yogurt or ice cream. But can you freeze lemon curd to enjoy its bright citrus flavor long term? Here is a comprehensive look at whether or not lemon curd can be frozen successfully.
The Short Answer
Yes, lemon curd can be frozen to extend its shelf life. When frozen properly in an airtight container, lemon curd will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer before quality starts to decline. To freeze, allow lemon curd to cool completely, then spoon into freezer-safe containers, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Examining the Properties of Lemon Curd
To understand whether lemon curd can be frozen, it helps to first examine its properties and ingredients:
Lemon curd contains lemon juice, eggs, sugar, and butter as the main ingredients. The high acidity from the lemon juice and sugar helps prevent bacterial growth. The butter adds richness, and the eggs provide structure and emulsion. Importantly, none of these ingredients on their own have issues with freezing.
Lemon curd has a smooth, creamy, spreadable texture. This comes from properly emulsifying the eggs and butter into the lemon juice and sugar. The texture is loose, but still thick enough to spread.
A key property of lemon curd is its emulsion – the melding of butter into the lemon juice and eggs. This emulsion is created through proper cooking techniques, which require gentle heating and frequent stirring to disperse the fat molecules.
Lemon curd tastes tart and acidic, thanks to the generous amount of fresh lemon juice used in the recipe. The high acidity helps preserve the curd and prevent bacterial growth.
Overall, examining the ingredients, texture, emulsion, and acidity of lemon curd gives us a good basis for determining if it can successfully be frozen.
Factors that Support Freezing Lemon Curd
After examining the properties of lemon curd, several factors emerge that support the idea that it can be successfully frozen:
Low Water Content
Lemon curd has a relatively low water content, since the main ingredients are butter, eggs, lemon juice, and sugar. Foods with lower moisture freeze well because there is less free water available to form damaging ice crystals during freezing.
High Sugar and Acid Content
The sugar and lemon juice in lemon curd lower its freezing point, which helps the curd freeze solidly instead of forming ice crystals. The high sugar also prevents freezer burn by inhibiting water migration within the frozen curd.
Emulsion Stays Intact When Frozen
The butter emulsion in lemon curd remains intact when frozen, thanks to the low water content and high sugar and acidity. The fat droplets stay dispersed instead of separating.
Eggs Freeze Well
Raw eggs on their own freeze exceptionally well, so the eggs in lemon curd act as a suitable base when frozen.
Potential Problems with Freezing Lemon Curd
Despite many favorable factors, there are some potential issues that can arise when freezing lemon curd:
The texture of lemon curd can change after thawing, becoming slightly grainy or loose. This occurs when some water separates and forms ice crystals during freezing.
In some cases, the emulsion may break down during freezing or thawing, causing the butter to separate. This results in a greasy or curdled texture.
Some subtle loss of bright lemon flavor can occur after freezing and thawing. This is caused by the volatilization of aromatic compounds.
Freezing can accelerate staling of the lemon curd over a prolonged period. Months of frozen storage deplete freshness, aroma, and texture.
How to Freeze Lemon Curd Successfully
To get the best results when freezing lemon curd, follow these guidelines:
Use High-Quality Ingredients
Make the curd with fresh ingredients – ripe lemons, farm-fresh eggs, real butter, and cane sugar.
Cook the Curd Properly
Cook the curd gently over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will form a stable emulsion.
Cool and Refrigerate Before Freezing
Allow the lemon curd to cool at room temperature, then chill thoroughly in the fridge before freezing. This helps prevent emulsion breakdown.
Freeze in Airtight Containers
Freeze the lemon curd in airtight freezer containers or zip-top bags. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
Leave 1⁄2-inch headspace in containers before freezing, as curd will expand slightly.
Thaw in Fridge
Thaw frozen lemon curd gradually in the refrigerator before using.
Use Within 3 Months
For best quality, use frozen lemon curd within 2-3 months.
How to Use Frozen Lemon Curd
Frozen lemon curd retains its versatility for both sweet and savory uses. Here are some great ways to enjoy thawed lemon curd:
- Spread on scones, biscuits, or toast
- Swirl into yogurt, oatmeal, or cottage cheese
- Fill crepes, pancakes, or tart shells
- Spoon over pound cake or ice cream
- Blend into smoothies or milkshakes
- Stir into fruit salads or trifles
- Use as a sauce for chicken or fish
- Fill sandwich cookies or thumbprint cookies
Nutrition Facts for Frozen Lemon Curd
Freezing doesn’t significantly change the nutrition profile of lemon curd. Here are the nutrition facts for a 1⁄4 cup serving of thawed frozen lemon curd:
Recipe for Freezer Lemon Curd
This recipe makes a large batch of lemon curd that can be frozen in portion sizes for lasting enjoyment. It will keep frozen for 2-3 months.
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
- 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in a non-reactive saucepan until smooth.
- Add lemon juice and whisk to combine.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cold butter until melted and incorporated.
- Strain curd through a mesh sieve into a bowl.
- Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.
- Spoon chilled curd into freezer containers, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Seal lids.
- Label containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw refrigerated before using in recipes.
Lemon curd can be successfully frozen for long-term storage while retaining its signature bright flavor. Follow proper freezing guidelines to prevent texture changes and emulsion breakdown. Thaw frozen lemon curd in the refrigerator before using to enjoy its fresh, zesty taste on everything from scones to yogurt parfaits. With a well-sealed container and careful thawing, you can enjoy freezer lemon curd for up to 3 months.