How long does lemon curd have to be cooked in order to ensure a good set? if pectin is being used, what type of pectin is suitable?


Lemon curd is not cooked so much for a time—in general times are only guidelines to help cooks not yet familiar with a recipe do planning—as they are to a specific outcome.

The traditional test for lemon curd (and all custards, really) is the nappe, or coating the back of a spoon. If you dip a spoon into the curd, and then run your finger through it, the little "mound" or "ridge" of curd that builds up on either side should not immediately flow back into the path of your finger. The clear path should remain. This tells you the curd is thickened.

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(Image credit: Baking Vintage)

A more modern method would be to take the temperature with a high quality instant read thermometer (the curd should be well stirred, so the temperature is a good representation). It should be approximately 180 F / 82 C when fully thickened.

The amount of time it takes to get to this stage depends on your volume and your heating method.

I have never heard of a lemon curd being supplemented with additional pectin (there may be some natural pectin from lemon zest already in the recipe); the thickening agent is the proteins in the eggs, which is why it is a custard variant.

  • Since most curds have eggs, how does the cooking time or the setting correlate with the eggs being "cooked enough" to remove salmonella?
    – ashes999
    May 23 '15 at 13:11
  • 1
    @ashes999 The 99.9 kill time at 165 F is seconds; since you are heating the curd to about 180 F, the practice is very safe.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    May 23 '15 at 15:13

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