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Mar 10, 2009 01:01 PM

Citric acid substitution?

I have a recipe that calls for 1/4 tsp of citric acid. Could I replace this with something else?

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  1. Got a vitamin C tablet? How 'about a lemon or some white vinegar..

    1. What's the recipe for? It can possibly be replaced with a squeeze of lemon or lime but it really depends on the dish.

      If you have any vitamin C tablets, you can crush those into a powder with spoons or a mortar & pestle. Vitamin C = citric acid.

      10 Replies
      1. re: HaagenDazs

        Vitamin C = ascorbic acid. Citric acid is a different chemical. However, for cooking purposes, they perform the same function as weak acids.

        1. re: HaagenDazs

          It is actually a meatball recipe. Would lemon juice work? Would I use the same amount -- 1/4 tsp?

          1. re: maslovma

            Ruth is right on those definitions above.

            Why does the meatball recipe include citric acid? Kind of odd. What kind of meatballs? You can use lemon juice, sure. Or you could completely eliminate it altogether. As long as it's not for a cake or some baked good like that, you can twist or eliminate items to suit your own taste, especially something like meatball recipes.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Sweet and sour meatballs. It looks like that's where the "sour" comes from.

              Thanks for your help!

              1. re: maslovma

                Oh, that makes sense then. You can try vinegar. Lemon juice might kind of get swallowed in the dish but it really depends on the amount you use. In any situation, you're going to need more than a 1/4 teaspoon of whatever liquid you use. Sweet and sour items are often no more than sugar and vinegar, so you can work from there. My suggestion is to search online for recipes and gather a consensus from there.

                I can say with certainty that having citric acid as an ingredient is rather odd when something like vinegar is much more likely to be found in the average home.




                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  I'm guessing that the recipe is either an older one, written a generation or two ago, and/or a Jewish one. Citric acid used to be much more commonly available than it is today. Jewish cooking also used to use sour salt (a culinary name for citric acid) with some regularity. If you live anywhere with a large Jewish population, check your store for sour salt. Also, if you know of any home brew shops in your area, they will carry citric acid in small amounts as it is used in some home brew recipes.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    Interesting and good to know, thanks!

                    1. re: rockycat

                      Yes -- it is an old Jewish recipe. You nailed it! :)

                2. re: HaagenDazs

                  I'm afraid some of us are on stooooopid eliminations diets (note to self: will be worth it will be worth it will be worth it...) so we can't have vinegar...or pretty much anything else with taste!

                  We are doing FAILSAFE for my 4 yo old son, anyone else?

                  1. re: hillsbilly

                    i use lemon juice or vitamin C crystals... can't have vinegar either. stupid allergies.

            2. Since citric acid is a sub for lemon juice I would say use lemon juice but adjust for the difference the liquid would add to the consistency of the meatballs

              1. Can you possibly post the recipe? My grandma used to make sweet and sour meatballs with sour salt - and I don't have any recipe?