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Feb 18, 2009 11:32 AM

Source for citric acid?

Does anyone know where I can find citric acid in the Boston area? I thought Christina's Spices in Inman for some reason, but their phone has been temporarily disconnected. I guess a follow-up question is: what's going on at Christina's?

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. I was in there a week ago Sunday and all looked well.

    1. Try a homebrew store -- Modern Brewer probably, Beer & Wine Hobby in Woburn definitely carries it.

      1. any CVS or Walgreens will carry it but it's labeled as vitamin C. you'll need to crush the tabs or you can do as i do and give them a whirl in the spice grinder to your desired level of powdery-ness.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ScubaSteve

          Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, not citric.

          1. re: yarm


            are they interchangeable with regards to foodstuffs?

        2. I got it at Debra's Nat. Gourmet in W Concord. I'll bet WF has it.

          1. Try sour salt sold at the Butcheries in Brookline. You can also find it in at groceries in Brookline and Newton.

            15 Replies
              1. re: The Professor

                Professor, What is acetic acid ? Thanks, Macadamianut

                1. re: The Professor

                  I believe it's another (more folksy) name for citric acid (purified from sour fruits like lemons). Acetic acid doesn't crystallize that well (it can when chilled, but it also sublimates into gas).

                  1. re: yarm

                    acetic acid - vinegar ** Does not readily sublimate** sublimate is going directly from a solid to a gas (like "dry ice", solid carbon dioxide, does). Most vinegars are only ~6% acetic acid anyway.

                    citric acid - the acid found in lemon juice. Sound like the OP wants pure citric acid, usually sold as a sodium salt, sodium citrate. Not sure what they need it for..could the OP let us know??

                    ascorbic acid - vitamin c. Again, usually found in its salt form, sodium ascorbate.

                    1. re: Science Chick

                      Wow, this is a ton of helpful information! I need citric acid because I'm making a few recipes from the Alinea cookbook, and I forgot to order it on-line a week ago. Don't suppose any of you know where I can get agar agar or glucose, do you?

                      Thanks, everyone!

                      1. re: cookboat55

                        I've purchased agar agar from whole foods. I think it was in the Japanese section, near the kuzu. For glucose, do you need solid or liquid?

                        1. re: cookboat55

                          Agar agar is also at Debra's Natural Gourmet in West Concord, I used some a few weeks ago for some soup dumplings. All their spices are sold from bulk containers so you can get as much or as little as you want.

                          1. re: cookboat55

                            Agar agar (in thin strips or sheets) are also sold in Chinese markets, if that's a more convenient location. You can hit any of the larger ones in and around Boston.

                          2. re: Science Chick

                            My point was that if it was a salt (dried), it was not acetic acid since it would sublimate and it is difficult to make and keep it that way.

                            1. re: yarm

                              I'm sorry, but I'm not understanding you......just because something is "dried" does not make it a salt. A salt form of an acid loses one or more or its hydrogen ions, which is replaced with a positively charged salt, usually sodium or potassium. Pure acetic acid (like the stuff I use in my lab....yes, I am a *real* science chick!!) has no water in it and if heated will evaporate away. Once you evaporate it, it is gone. An acetate salt, such as sodium acetate, keeps very easily at room temperature. If you wanted to sublimate it, you would have to expose it to tremendous pressure. That's why most acids, such as citrate, acetate, ascorbate, etc store quite well and are highly stable in their salt forms.

                              1. re: Science Chick

                                Very Very impressive Science Chick! I enjoyed your science lesson. Your like a woman Alton Brown!! It was very interesting, thank you.

                                1. re: Science Chick

                                  They call pure acetic acid glacial because if you chill it slightly (16°C, refrigerator would do), it forms crystals. No tremendous pressure is needed to form crystals. And it would not require tremendous pressures to sublimate it (assuming you scooped out the crystals, and ignoring the water the crystals would grab from the air). And it doesn't need to be heated to evaporate. Thank you for the lecture though.

                                  The dried/salt part was in reference to what the guy saw on the shelf at a store and why that wasn't acetic acid.

                                  1. re: yarm

                                    Pressure is required for sublimation, not crystallization. If you warm the crystals, they will go from solid back to liquid, not from solid to a gas.