Pressure Canning Grapefruit Curd

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are approaching the upcoming holiday season at warp speed. Today is December 1st which means in a blink of an eye Christmas trees will be going up in houses all around you, mall parking lots will be full at the crack of dawn til the end of the day and carols will play on the radio 24/7.

Love it or hate it, Christmas is coming!

And with the approaching holiday season, comes the fact that friends and family will be popping over for visits, bites to eat and festive drinks.

While I love to cook, I also love having some of the food prepared ahead of time. And what better way to be prepared than to have pre-made dessert just sitting in your pantry awaiting the arrival of planned or surprise guests.

Pressure Canned Grapefruit Curd


1 2/3 cups superfine sugar*

1/3 cup fresh grapefruit zest (generally takes 4-5 grapefruit. You want zest and not pith)

4 large eggs

8 large egg yolks

1 cup grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed and strained)

2/3 cup of chilled unsalted butter cubed

In a small bowl, combine the superfine sugar and zest (if you do not have superfine sugar, run granulated sugar through a mixer to reduce the size of the granules), stirring until well blended. Let stand for 30-45 minutes to allow the sugar to pick up the citrus flavor of the zest.

Fill the a medium saucepan about ¼ full of water. Over med-high heat bring the water to a gentle boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium metal bowl, gently beat the whole eggs and egg yolks. Gradually whisking in the sugar and the zest until well blended. Stir in the grapefruit juice and then add the butter.

Place a medium sized glass or metal bowl in the fridge to cool.

Place bowl over the pan of boiling water. Make sure the top pan sits well above the water so the curd will be cooked by the steam only, not the boiling water. Reduce the heat to keep the water from boiling too vigorously.

Slowly heat the mixture, stirring constantly with a flexible spoon or spatula. Stir gently or the curd will be filled with tiny air bubbles. Scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to prevent scorching or curdling. Cook the mixture until it reaches a temperature between 168F and 170F (76C and 77C) about 5-7 minutes.

Remove the top pan or bowl from the double boiler and place it on a dish towel. Continue to stir the mixture until the curd thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon, about 5 minutes.

Remove the chilled bowl from the fridge. Place a fine meshed sieve over the bowl. Slowly pour the curd through the sieve and into the chilled bowl to strain the zest and any small lumps from the curd. Gently stir the curd to remove any trapped air bubbles. Don't be surprised if this part takes you between 5-10 minutes. If you want a nice, smooth and creamy curd it is well worth the time it takes.

Ladle the curd into hot jars, leaving 1/4” head space. Using a plastic knife, remove any trapped air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings.

Process 125 and 250ml jars for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure in a weighted gauge pressure canner or 10 minutes at 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge pressure canner. Yields 6-7 125ml jars.


Pressure Canning vs Water bath

There are two ways to process preserved fruits and vegetables, but how do you know when you need to use one method over the other? When can you safely water bath something versus having to pressure can it?

There is a simple rule - fruits and HIGH acid foods can be safely preserved using the water bath whereas vegetables and LOW acid foods are what NEED to be pressure canned. Now don't go confusing pressure canners with pressure cookers or steamers, or it may result in some exploding jars, contaminated product or worse. Pressure cookers and steamers simply will not heat the contents of your jars to the correct temperature, so be sure you are using a pressure cooker and follow the operating instructions that you will find inside the box. Pressure canning increases the temperature of the product inside your jars to a hot enough temperature that it kills and bacteria present and will also deactivate any unwanted enzymes.

So what types of items are considered LOW acid?

  • tomato sauce recipes that do not have lemon juice added to them
  • vegetables that are not pickled using vinegar
  • meats and seafood
  • vegetables with a pH level higher than 4.6, lack the acidity to stop the growth of bacteria spores

The basic process of the water bath

- To calculate the size of the water bath canner, keep these measurements in mind. You need to allow for the following:

  • height of your jar
  • a minimum of 1 inch of water above the jar
  • 1 inch of air space above the water level
  • 1 inch for the rack you place on the inside of your pot
  • the pot should be no more than 4 inches larger in diameter than your stovetop burner to allow for the water to achieve and maintain the proper temperature

Once you have chosen the correct sized water bath canner/pot for the job, follow these simple steps to complete the water bath process.

  • Put your rack on the bottom of your canner and fill with water, leaving as much as 4 inches of clearance from the top of the canner. If you notice mineral deposits beginning to form on your processed jars, you can add vinegar to the mix to prevent this.
  • Place the lid on the canner and place your canner on your stovetop and turn heat to high
  • Using a jar lifter, place each of your sterilized and filled jars into the canner and ensure it is sitting flat on the rack within. Leave space between each of the jars to ensure water continues to circulate between the jars and heats jars evenly.
  • Ensure that there is a minimum of 1 inch of water above the top of your filled jars and if necessary add more hot water to the pot
  • Bring the temperature of the water up to the level required for your recipe and begin timing the water bath.
  • Ensure the temperature maintains at a minimum the temperature outlined in your recipe and increase heat if required.
  • Process for the full amount of time prescribed in the recipe. Do not shorten this time or you may not kill any harmful bacteria present inside your jars
  • When the time is complete, remove the jars from the bath and place on a cooling rack or tea cloth. Never place your hot jars directly onto your countertop or they could shatter.
  • Allow the jars to cool and then store in a cool, dark place.

The basic process for pressure canning using a weighted gauge canner (be sure to read any manufacturer instructions that come with your pressure canner)

  • Place the metal rack that comes with your canner on the bottom of the canner and fill with 2-5 inches of water
  • Place the pressure canner on your stovetop over low heat and bring the temperature to 180F.
  • Using a jar lifter, place each of your sterilized and filled jars into the canner and ensure it is sitting flat on the rack within. Leave space between each of the jars to ensure water continues to circulate between the jars and heats jars evenly.
  • Put the lid on top of your canner and twist into place leaving the weighted gauge off the canner to start
  • Increase your heat to medium-high until steam begins to escape. At this point, set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • After it has steamed for 10 minutes, place your weighted gauge on the steam vent. The gauge you use will be outlined in your recipe. Do not change the weight used
  • After about 4-5 minutes your gauge should show that you have reached the desired pressure. Set your timer for the amount of time outlined in your recipe. Ensure the pressure does not drop throughout the entire process. If it begins to drop, increase your heat.
  • Once the time is complete, turn off the heat. Let the canner cool until the gauge reads zero. DO NOT OPEN BEFORE IT REACHES ZERO AS THERE WILL STILL BE A BUILD UP OF PRESSURE INSIDE THE CANNER AND YOUR LID COULD SHOOT UP
  • Once you have reached zero pressure remove the weighted gauge and allow the steam to escape before opening the lid. Give your jars a few minutes to cool before removing them from the canner
  • remove the jars from the canner and place on a cooling rack or tea cloth. Never place your hot jars directly onto your countertop or they could shatter.

Couple of tips to remember:

- if the pressure drops during the process for less than 5 minutes, increase your heat until pressure has returned to the desired level. Add 10 extra minutes to the time remaining in the process.

- if the pressure drops during the process time for more than 5 minutes, increase your heat until the pressure has returned to the desired level and re-process for the entire time outlined in the recipe.

Lemon Curd for Kimmie

My friend Kim loooooves lemon curd. She is the kind of lemon curd lover that will buy a jar and not tell her husband for fear of having to share. Sorry Kimmie for ruining the secret, but it had to be done. Because of her love for the curd, I have spent a few months thinking about getting a pressure canner so that I can make lemon curd that she could keep for at least 4 months in her pantry. Not that I think it would even last 4 minutes, but I could be wrong. Finally for my birthday, my mother in law took me shopping and bought me this beauty.

Today was the first chance I had to take her out of the box and admire her in all her glory. She is a Mirro 16 qt pressure canner finally I am going to see what she is capable of. I must admit to being a little intimidated by her size.

Now if you have ever made lemon curd the one thing you will remember is how it makes the whole house smell delicious. The eggs, the sugar, the lemon rind, the lemon juice and the butter all brought together in a double boiler is perhaps one of the better air fresheners.

And then when it starts to thicken, it is nearly impossible to resist putting a spoon in and tasting it. Of course you are not tasting it because you have no self control, you are tasting it simply for quality control. This is you making sure that it is good enough for OTHERS to eat.

Once you have strained it to get rid of all of the zest and it is sitting in the bowl looking all silky and like a little burst of sunshine you start to think about what it will be like to have jars of this magical stuff sitting on your pantry shelves and at any time being able to say 'I feel like lemon curd' and being able to pop open a jar and putting it in a nice tart or even eating it directly from the spoon...not that I would ever be so uncivilized to so such a thing. But seriously...just look at it and tell me if you could resist.

And yes...I licked the spoon!

The pressure canner worked like a charm, blew steam and rattled away and we went out for dinner while the curd cooled on the counter in jars. As soon as we returned I had to pop some tarts in the oven so that I could see how good the final product turned out. The verdict is that it is so good that even though Kim inspired this experiment, she will not benefit from the receipt of even one jar. Not because I selfishly want to keep all this goodness to myself. Of course not, I need to practice so that the batch she gets is perfect!