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Apr 10, 2011 10:22 AM

Metallic taste in lemon meringue pie

I recently made a lemon meringue pie that resulted in having a strong metallic taste. I thought it might be a reaction between the meringue which was beaten in a metal bowl and the acidic lemon. Although it was a stainless non-reactive bowl, could it have imparted the bad taste? Anyone else experience this?

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  1. I'd be interested to know what kind of pie pan you baked it in, and the beater you used. They are a more likely culprit than a stainless bowl.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mamachef

      The beater is the whisk attachment for my stand mixer and the pie pan is glass.

    2. I don't know what causes it, but I have experienced the same metallic lemon meringue pie taste. It only happens in about one pie out of twenty. It seems to happen more with store made pies than homemade ones, but it's still a mystery to me.

      8 Replies
      1. re: gfr1111

        This is so interesting! I have not experienced this. Okay with a standard, modern mixer the attachment was certainly stainless and a glass pieplate wouldn't impart flavor. I'm assuming you did cook that curd; was the stainless bowl a double boiler? Or did you mix your curd first and then cook in an aluminum pan? Only other thing I can think of is that some pith got accidentally mixed in with fresh-grated zest (if called for in your recipe) and imparted a bitterness that you interpreted as metallic. Re the storemade pies, I'm thinking the aluminium pie pans they pack it in might've imparted a metallic flavor to those pies.
        It will be interesting to see what other folks have to say.

        1. re: mamachef

          The curd was cooked and neither an aluminum pan or double boiler was used in the process. Lemon zest was not added. I've included the recipe here, perhaps I've overlooked an important detail. I combined sugar, salt, and water in a stainless saucepan and brought it to boil, then added a mixture of cornstarch and water and cooked it until thickened and translucent. In a glass bowl, egg yolks and lemon juice were combined and gradually added to the sugar mixture and brought up to boil once again. After removing from heat, I added butter and let the mixture cool until lukewarm, (I later found that cooling is not recommended and actually causes condensation). In the stainless bowl of my stand mixer, I combined egg whites and salt, whipped until foamy, then added sugar to form the meringue. I mixed about 3/4 cup of the meringue into the filing and reserved the rest to top the pie. I pre-baked a ready made crust, using aluminum foil. Once assembled, the pie was baked for 15 minutes to brown the meringue.

          1. re: debinjtown

            Hey, that's a completely standard method and prep. for curd. I see nothing about it that should've given it a metallic taste. So my answer is, I have no idea except; is it possible that the aluminium foil somehow leached taste into the crust?

            1. re: debinjtown

              Even if your mixing bowl was stainless, were your measuring cups or spoons aluminum? Or your juicer?

              My next guess is the cornstarch. There are quite a few reports on the web of cornstarch imparting a metallic taste.

              After that comes cream of tartar. Did you use it to stabilize your egg whites?

              Read the link. It says stainless + acid can leach nickel into the dessert.

              The other cause mentioned was powdered sugar that was a bit old and had oxidized. In that case, the cornstarch added to the powdered sugar during the manufacturing process would be the culprit. Not sure of the accuracy of either of these causes, but they are mentioned.


              Google can help you explore these causes further.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                I think it's the acid and stainless that caused the problem. I'm going to substitute with glass cookware and bowls where possible.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  Actually, that's my first guess, too. More common than you might think.

                2. re: debinjtown

                  I don't know what causes the metallic taste, but I do know that a few drops of vanilla, added to both the curd and the meringue, can mask it.

            2. Hi all,

              Debinjtown, did you precook your filling? If so, what kind of pan did you use?


              1. Did other people notice a metallic taste, or just you?

                1 Reply
                1. re: sarahcooks

                  Everyone noticed. It was so strong none of us could take a second bite except for my husband. He thought the meringue was less metallic tasting than the curd.

                2. I don't think stainless would impart a taste--it's non reactive, isn't it?

                  My mom made dozens of lemon chiffon pies from our home-grown Meyer lemons. She made a lemon custard using fresh juice and lots of zest in the custard base, and folded in whipped egg whites (sweetened with powdered sugar), baked it in a pyrex dish, then chilled and topped it with sweetened (powdered sugar) whipped cream. It always had a faint metallic taste, but the pie was soooo good. My taste buds figured it was the acid in the juice interacting with something else in the redipe. No one else in the family ever commented on any metallic taste (there were rarely leftovers) so I figured it was my taste buds. I get a similar reaction when eating spinach--probably the oxalic acid.

                  Perhaps most people aren't used to something not as overpoweringly sweet as lemon bars and commercial lemon meringue.