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Cooking with Citric Acid 101

It happened again; you pulled out a recipe that calls for lemons, and you completely forgot to add them to your shopping list. Let's be honest here, how many times are you buying lemons and using the entire bag before they go bad? 

Are you looking for the ultimate staple to have in your pantry that's not only a budget saver but also a time saver? It's time to stock up on citric acid. 

Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid in the crystalline form found in certain fruits and vegetables with preservative and antioxidant properties. Now, before you disregard and say, "this is a kitchen, not a science lab!" Did you know that citric acid can be found throughout almost every part of your kitchen? Citric acid is found on the ingredients list of many foods in your kitchen pantry, including preserves, candy, sauces, bread, cheeses, and crunchy snacks. You may also recognize citric acid as "sour salt" due to its flavor and similar appearance and texture to salt. 

Still not convinced? Did you know that citric acid can be measured and added to recipes either as an ingredient or a replacement for other acids like lemon juice or vinegar? Yeah, you read that right. Not only is it a flavor enhancer and a phenomenal preservative, but it's also a reliable substitute! For example, a 1/2 teaspoon of powdered citric acid can be used for every quart of tomatoes when canning tomatoes. 

Here are some great measuring tips for cooking with citric acid:

  • ¼ tsp of powdered citric acid is equivalent to 1 tbsp of lemon juice. 
  • 1 tsp of powdered citric acid is equivalent to ¼ cup lemon juice (4 tbsps).
  • Keep fruits and vegetables fresh by soaking them in a mix of ⅛ tsp of citric acid for every 3 cups of water.
  • Use ½ teaspoon of citric acid to replace every ¼ cup of lemon juice in recipes for fresh cheeses.
  • Mix in ⅛ teaspoon of citric acid for every 3 cups of water needed to create acidulated water for soaking produce such as apples and celery root.
  • When lemon juice is required in a recipe to provide an acidic punch, you can substitute ⅛ tsp of citric acid dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water for every tbsp of lemon juice needed. 
  • Dissolve a 1/2 teaspoon citric acid in 2 tablespoons of water and use in place of 2 tbsps of vinegar.
  • No more than 1 tbsp of citric acid will be needed when using in place of salt for bread recipes such as sourdough. 
  • Spray a solution of 1 ounce citric acid solution with 1-quart water before cooking meat to kill bacteria. 

Ready to get cooking? 


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