Cranberry Curd

It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving and many of you are probably very tired of being in the kitchen.  I spent the holiday week in the Caribbean so spending a little kitchen time was welcome on such a cold day.  Turns out that canning is much less problematic when it’s 35 degrees outside than when it’s 95 degrees outside.  It’s kind of nice to have a warm steamy kitchen in November.  Lucky for me that a recent Cooking Light magazine included a recipe for Cranberry Curd, a nice twist on the traditional Lemon Curd.

The cranberry curd is in the small jars in the front.  The other jars are the mixed berry jam I also made today.  And in the way back are the peppers I’m drying to grind and use all year.  It’s a little bit “Little House” around here today.

Making curd falls pretty squarely in the ‘intermediate’ category of difficulty, maybe even toward the high end.  It has a number of steps and a fair lot of dishes too.  My kitchen was a pretty big disaster when I was done.  I have no experience with this kind of thing so I limited the recipe adjustments to one.  I left out the Grand Marnier because I didn’t have any.  I added just a touch extra lemon juice for the added liquid. 

So here’s the basic idea.  You cook down some cranberries in lemon juice; puree them in a food processor; and mash them through a sieve.  On the side you make this custard kind of stuff with butter, sugar, eggs and corn starch.  Cook it all in a double boiler.  Then begins the canning process.  Hot curd into hot jars into a hot water bath.  Twenty minutes later – voila! – you have shelf ready cranberry curd. 

I don’t have a lot of tips to offer except to follow the instructions.  Mashing the berries through a sieve is messy and a giant pain.  I was too lazy to get out my food mill, but I don’t know that it would have saved me much time or effort.  Maybe.  In any case you have to do it.  You’ll be tempted to skip that step because the pureed berries look pretty smooth when they come out of the food processor.  They aren’t.  You’ll be surprised how much peel you end up throwing in the trash.  You may also be tempted to skip some of the mixing between egg additions.  Don’t.  In order for the curd to be creamy and to thicken properly you need to beat the curd after each addition.  And be sure to stir frequently as it cooks.  You don’t want it to burn or get grainy from being ignored.  One tip about the double boiler.  If you don’t have one, no big deal.  Use a pot with a little water and a heat resistant bowl.  Regardless be sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.

I decided to can this in a hot water bath canner.  That way folks can store it on the shelf until they open it.  For you canners out there you need 1/2 inch of headspace in the jars and they process for 20 minutes.  If you don’t can, or just don’t feel like it, you can freeze it.  I recommend using Ball’s freezer safe jars for that.  Of course if you just want to use it up you can store it in the fridge for a week or so.  Cover the top in a little plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

I’m pretty impressed with my first batch of curd.  It’s thick and smooth and creamy just like it’s supposed to be.  It has a sweet/tart thing going on, so that’s good.  The cranberry adds a nice red color that’s very holiday festive.  Since most of this will be holiday gifts that works out well.  It’s not as red as the picture in the magazine, but maybe their cranberries were darker than mine.  If the color bothers you add just a touch of red food coloring.  That shouldn’t hurt anything.

What does one do with curd?  The magazine recommends adding it to yogurt or oatmeal.  I think traditionally it’s served with crumpets or scones at tea time.  You can also use it between cake layers or as a cupcake or cookie filling.  Make tarlets.  Serve it over ice cream.  This is really versatile stuff so if you decide to make it make a whole bunch.  I doubled the recipe you see below and still have the ingredients to make another double batch on another day.  I hope folks like it in their Christmas baskets!

Good? Good.
Easy? Not even.
Good for company? Absolutely. A lovely gift.
Special shopping? Nope. Just remember you can only get fresh cranberries in most places at certain times of the year.

Cranberry Curd


1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch


1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until cranberries pop. Place cranberry mixture in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Strain cranberry mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

2. Combine sugars and butter in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add egg yolks and egg, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in cranberry mixture, cornstarch, and salt. Place mixture in the top of a double boiler. Cook over simmering water until a thermometer registers 160° and mixture thickens (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in liqueur. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.


2 Responses to “Cranberry Curd”

  1. Deborah W Reed Says:

    I don’t see how much this makes?

  2. 1womanskitchen Says:

    Sorry about that! I got those 12 4oz jars out of it, so 6 cups.

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