How long does an unopened jar of lemon curd last?

Lemon curd is a tangy, sweet spread made with lemon juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. An unopened jar of lemon curd can last for quite a while in the refrigerator or freezer if stored properly. Here is a quick overview of how long lemon curd lasts unopened:

Shelf Life of Unopened Lemon Curd

An unopened jar of commercially produced lemon curd will typically last for 2-3 months past the “best by” date printed on the jar when stored in the refrigerator. Homemade lemon curd will usually last for 3-4 weeks when refrigerated in a sealed container. The high acidity level from the lemon juice helps prevent bacterial growth.

For even longer shelf life, lemon curd can be frozen for 6-8 months in an airtight container. It may lose some texture when thawed but will retain good flavor.

How to Tell if Unopened Lemon Curd is Bad

Here are some signs that an unopened jar of lemon curd has gone bad and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth inside the jar
  • Curdled texture instead of smooth
  • Separation of liquids/solids
  • Fermented smell upon opening
  • Discoloration or darkening

As long as the lemon curd smells pleasantly lemony and citrusy when you open the jar, it should be fine to use. Taste a small amount if you are unsure.

Does Refrigeration Extend Shelf Life?

Yes, refrigeration helps extend the shelf life of unopened lemon curd significantly. The cold temperatures slow down microbial growth and preserve freshness. An unopened jar of lemon curd will last much longer refrigerated compared to sitting at room temperature.

Here are the approximate shelf lives:

Storage Method Shelf Life of Unopened Lemon Curd
Refrigerator (35-40°F) 2-4 months past “best by” date
Freezer (0°F) 6-8 months
Pantry 2-3 weeks

As you can see, refrigeration lengthens the shelf life significantly compared to pantry storage. Freezing offers the longest duration.

Tips to Extend Shelf Life

Here are some tips for getting the longest shelf life out of your unopened lemon curd:

  • Purchase lemon curd with the furthest away “best by” date
  • Store in the refrigerator immediately after purchase
  • Keep lemon curd in its original jar until ready to use
  • Check jar regularly for signs of spoilage
  • Freeze for long term storage
  • Keep frozen curd away from freezer burn
  • Thaw in the refrigerator before use

How to Store Unopened Lemon Curd

Here are some storage guidelines for unopened lemon curd:

Refrigerator Storage

  • Keep lemon curd sealed in its original container
  • Store on a refrigerator shelf, not in the door
  • Place towards the back of the refrigerator where temperature is most consistent
  • If transferring to another container, choose an airtight glass or plastic container
  • Wipe off any curd around the rim of the jar before sealing to prevent mold

Freezer Storage

  • Freeze lemon curd in its original container or transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container
  • Ensure container leaves headspace to allow for expansion
  • Seal container tightly
  • Place curd in coldest part of freezer, ideally at 0°F or below
  • Wrap container in plastic wrap or foil to prevent freezer burn

Following these guidelines will help the unopened lemon curd stay fresh as long as possible.

Can You Use Lemon Curd Past its Expiration Date?

It is not recommended to use lemon curd past its printed expiration or “best by” date on the jar. These dates account for potential deterioration in quality over time. However, depending on how the lemon curd was stored, it may still be safe to use for a short period after the date if it has been kept refrigerated or frozen continuously.

Be sure to inspect the lemon curd closely before consuming. Check for any mold, off-smells, separation, or other signs of spoilage. Do a small taste test. If anything seems off, it is better to be safe and discard the lemon curd.

How to Know When Unopened Lemon Curd is Bad

Here are some clear signs that an unopened jar of lemon curd has gone bad and should be thrown out:

  • Mold growth – Any fuzzy growth or spots inside the jar indicate mold. Toss immediately.
  • Liquid separation – Clear liquid pooling at the top of the jar means the curd has separated. Discard.
  • Curdling – Instead of a smooth, pudding-like texture, the curd looks clumpy or cottage cheese-like.
  • Fermented smell – A sour, yeasty, or alcohol-like smell when you open the jar signals spoilage.
  • Darkening color – The bright yellow curd has become darker orange/brown. Toss it.
  • Off tastes – If you taste the curd and flavors seem off, it should not be consumed.

When in doubt, remember it is better to be safe and discard lemon curd past its prime. The risk of food poisoning is not worth it.

How Long Does Opened Lemon Curd Last in the Fridge?

Once opened, lemon curd will last for a shorter duration in the refrigerator compared to an unopened jar. This is because exposure to air starts the countdown towards spoilage. Here is how long opened lemon curd will last refrigerated:

  • Commercial lemon curd – 3-4 weeks
  • Homemade lemon curd – 1-2 weeks

To maximize freshness of opened lemon curd:

  • Transfer to an airtight container
  • Press plastic wrap directly on the surface before sealing the container
  • Use a clean utensil each time you scoop out curd
  • Do not double dip with utensils
  • Keep refrigerated at all times

Can You Freeze Opened Lemon Curd?

Yes, you can safely freeze lemon curd after opening to extend its shelf life. Opened lemon curd will last 4-6 months frozen. Follow these tips:

  • Transfer lemon curd to a freezer-safe container leaving 1/2 inch headspace
  • Seal the container tightly
  • Label container with name and freeze date
  • Lay plastic wrap directly on surface of curd before sealing
  • Freeze for up to 6 months
  • Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using

Freezing prevents bacterial growth that could occur in opened lemon curd over time in the refrigerator. Thawed curd may have a slightly softer set.


An unopened jar of lemon curd has an impressively long shelf life of 2-4 months refrigerated or 6-8 months frozen. Refrigeration and freezing are key to maximize freshness. Signs of spoilage like mold, off-smells, separation, or discoloration mean lemon curd should be discarded. Once opened, enjoy lemon curd within 3-4 weeks refrigerated or freeze for 4-6 months for longer duration. With proper storage, lemon curd can be delightfully tangy and smooth long past its “best by” date.

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