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Feb 15, 2008 02:33 PM

urgent: canning question (I may need to reprocess jars I just made)

Newbie canner here, in need of some guidance.

I just made a batch of meyer lemon curd (yay!), and processed it in a water bath canner. The lids seem sealed down (they popped, and won't lift off the jar if I grip them and hold the jar aloft by the lid edges), *however* some of the curd leaked out, so there is a bit of it on the outside rims of the jars. Does this mean that they don't have a proper seal? If they aren't properly sealed, can I rewarm the curd, pour it into fresh jars, and try processing again, or is this problematic for some reason? Would it be preferable (either from a food safety perspective or to preserve the texture of the curd) to freeze it instead?

And if I can/should reprocess them, do I just fill the jars slightly less? Leave a 1/2" instead of a 1/4"?


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  1. If you've gripped the lids and can't easily remove them, you've got a seal. That said, it certainly wouldn't hurt to freeze it. I've got some meyer lemon curd in the freezer right now that I never bothered to process; just poured it into the jar and put it in the freezer. If you've got the room for it, no reason not to. I don't think it will do much to preserve the texture, although it won't hurt it, but it may well keep any potential bacteria at bay.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Thanks for getting back to me so fast! Not to mention, telling me what I hoped to hear. :)

      One more question: if I freeze in the jars as they are, do you think I need to worry about the jars cracking? I'd normally leave some room for the curd to expand, and these - since they already overflowed a bit - are very full.

      1. re: chloe103

        Afraid I can't answer that since my jars were filled to within about 1/4 inch of the top. I just checked them, but can't tell without opening them, which I'd rather not do, whether or not they've expanded into that head space. Curd does keep well for a while in the fridge. Why not stick one of the ones that leaked in the freezer for a day or two and see what happens. If it doesn't crack, you can put in the rest. If it does, not sure where you'd go from there other than to put the curd into new jars.

        1. re: JoanN

          If the jars crack or break, don't put it in new jars - throw it away. Even meyer lemon curd is not worth accidentally eating broken glass.

          That said, I don't *think* it will expand much more. We freeze soups and things and the more solid ones don't seem to expand the way water does when frozen. Probably some thermodynamics lesson there, but I am a law student not a scientist. :)

          1. re: jnstarla

            You're absolutely right about the glass, but what I meant was that if the jar in the freezer cracks, repackage the jars that were in the fridge so they're not full to the top. Sorry if I wasn't clear about that.

      2. re: JoanN

        I do a lot of canning but have never done lemon curd. Having said that, if the curd leaked out, than I would be concerned. I think you are right in saying you probably filled the jars too full. I would be concerned freezing stuff in glass jars. When I smoke tons of tomatoes and want to freeze them I process them and then I spread them out on cookie sheets and freeze. Once frozen, remove whole piece from sheet and slice into serving portions, wrap in saran and stack in bags in freezer. Could you do this with lemon curd? Good luck. Also, you could try boiling curd again and reprocessing using less curd per bottle. This is acceptable for chutneys etc.....

      3. My dad does a lot of jams and he always checks seals by seeing if the middle part of the lid (that separate metal disk that goes inside the part you screw down) is down. Down is sealed, popped up unsealed.

        1. I had that happen when I first started canning and overfilled jars (and every now and then when I get careless) and found that it didn't make a difference because the compound along the inside of the jar lids apparently gets soft from the heat in processing. It molds to the glass jars when it's pulled down tight. That's why you can only use them once.
          Seems like when I overfilled the jars, some of the stuff just boiled over and squirted out through the softened gasket but as soon as the lid pulled down tight, it forced everything out of the way and the lid sealed tightly to the glass. None of the stuff has ever spoiled. As long as I get those *pings* and the tops are tight.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            Thanks for that - I've been having mixed feelings about keeping these jars, and hearing that is rather reassuring. I'm still fairly new at canning, and so haven't really gotten to the point where I have well developed instincts or intuitions. It's amazing how comforting total strangers can be!

            1. re: chloe103

              When I started canning, I was absolutely terrified that I was going to poison my entire family. My father laughed and said that people had been been doing it for - what! 100 years? - and that they had less information, more primitive equipment, and probably less sense than I did. Felt good that Daddy thought I had common sense.
              I've had very few mishaps and no sick or dead people in a few decades now..
              Keep at it! Worth the effort!

          2. chloe - they are fine - my applesauce leaks out all the time - it is just from overfilling - just wipe off the outside of the jars , or else you can get mold on the jars - which is stil ok - but makes you think twice. If the tops are depressed in the middle - all is well -

            1. Did you use fresh juice? I'm not sure your recipe is safe--meyer lemons are less acidic than regular lemons, and "safe" lemon curd recipes require bottled lemon juice (ugh!!). I don't think I'd can this if your acidity isn't proper. Acidity is such a big part of safe canning.

              But wow, you have me headed to the store for meyer lemons! I've canned great marmalade with them before.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Vetter

                That is a great point, which I hadn't considered at all. I modified a standard lemon curd recipe to make this - using the same proportions of juice, zest, eggs and butter, but reducing the sugar by about 1/4, since meyers are sweeter. Then followed the standard canning directions for the regular curd.

                Anybody? Is curd made with 100% meyer lemon juice too low in acid to be safely canned in a water bath?

                (As an aside - this is a fascinating little bit of education that I'm getting. Thanks to all for that.)

                p.s. Vetter, I actually made a batch of meyer lemon marmalade the same day I made the curd. Total agreement - it *is* great.

                1. re: chloe103

                  I agree. That is a good point. And I, too, made meyer lemon marmalade about the same time I made the curd. All I can say is that the marmalade recipe specifically called for a water bath and the curd recipe I used specifically called for freezing. Why not just put your curd in the freezer and be certain it will be safe to use?

                  1. re: JoanN

                    This is what I would do, too! Excellent advice!

                  2. re: chloe103

                    I've canned meyer lemon curd (doing about the same thing that you did, and I was pretty confident about it -- honestly, they say that fresh lemon juice isn't safe for canning, and I'm certainly never going to make lemon curd with bottled lemon juice! So I think it just depends on how paranoid you are -- meyer lemons are sweeter, but they're still plenty acidic, and I've seen other recipes for meyer lemon curd. If you're worried, you can freeze it, but mine lasted fine with no ill effects!

                    1. re: JasmineG

                      Re: bottled lemon juice. Yeah, we prefer fresh, but the reason that bottled is often called for in standard canning recipes is that it has a dependable level of acidity while that of fresh lemon juice will vary. The acidity level makes a difference in the preservation process. Sometimes it's better to err on the side of food safety.

                      The bigger problem with water bath canning of lemon curd may be the quantity of eggs and butter in this recipe. They are non-acid ingredients and may require pressure canning for safety - especially since chloe altered the recipe by decreasing the sugar (another preservative.) Most home canners are pretty religious about following tried-and-true recipes. They are more than matters of taste. There's a lot of chemistry involved in the preservation process.
                      It may be best to refrigerate or freeze the lemon curd for safety's sake.
                      Marmalade is completely different because it does not contain butter and eggs.