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How can I intensify the lemon flavor in a dish without added so much lemon juice that the dish seems watered down?

I like Hollandaise sauce but rarely can get it lemony enough for my taste. If I add extra lemon juice, the Hollandaise either curdles or becomes too thin for use as a sauce. Similarly, I like lots of other sauces with a more intense lemon flavor than is customarily put in a dish. Other than using more lemon juice, is there a way to intensify lemon flavor in a dish?

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  1. Place zest in butter when you melt it, then strain it out before you add it to the sauce.

    1. Grated lemon rind, just the yellow part, not the white which can be bitter.

        1. I've had a lot of success making compound butter or using lemon zest when I want more oomph.

              1. Lemon oil is my new favorite.

                4 Replies
                1. re: coll

                  Coli-can you tell what brand you buy? I bought some from WS a few years back for a cake recipe and it was not good-very bitter with a chemical aftertaste. It turned me off citrus oils. Others have said the same as you that they love it so now I figure I must have just bought the wrong kind.

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    I also have had some bad lemon oils over the years. I will only use this brand from now on: http://www.boyajianinc.com/bakingLemo...

                    A little goes a long way. I do keep refrigerated after opening.

                    Also I like Penzey's lemon peel powder (also kept refrigerated): http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                      A "me too" for the Penzey's lemon peel powder. Just a little bit of this adds intense lemon flavor to a dish.

                    2. re: foodieX2

                      I buy different brands but I do look at the ingredients to decide. The one I have now is from Whole Foods, it's called Olave; it's organinc and is made with extra virgin olive oil. Cold pressed, unfiltered, the whole enchilada. Not that any of that is a deal breaker for me, but it seems like a little care went into the manufacturing. So good in salads and marinades.

                      I am always happy just to find it, I don't think I ever bought the same brand twice. With summer coming up, this bottle will be gone fast, even though it's a decent size.

                  2. You could try adding citric acid - essentially dried lemon juice. (Maybe not as full flavored, but definitely sour!)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: babette feasts

                      Citric acid is the first ingredient in TrueLemon. It is not just dehydrated lemon juice.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Well I guess citric acid is derived from lemons

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Citric acid can be used in a pinch (pun intended) - but there's more taste to lemon than just CA.

                          Dry slices of peeled lemon - and grind in coffee bean grinder for own lemon powder.

                          1. re: jounipesonen

                            Drying and powdering orange slices works too.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                I'm afraid it's rather difficult to make at home - at least I'd be waiting for some ideas. The cell structure of both lemon and orange makes the drying impossible without heat - which is what I found out - the lemons get moldy before drying. If you haet them, they will dry but one ends up with an unappetizing brown powder.

                      2. Lemon oil and lemon zest can be quite bitter, so that's a crapshoot. I recommend TrueLemon (supermarkets and online), which is freeze-dried lemon juice. It comes in packets like sugar packets, though containing less volume. It has a fresh lemon flavor once reconstituted though in your case, you would not add water, just stir into your sauce.

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: greygarious

                          It's freeze dried lemon juice AND zest, I love it in tea. The only thing is, it has a tiny bit of "organic cane" sugar added, but I live with it. Contains soy too, for whatever reason.

                          1. re: coll

                            If you try Penzey's powdered California lemon peel, I think you will like it. It is nothing but the dried and ground outer layer of the lemon peel (no pith), and it's never bitter. But it is intensely lemon-y! I like to add a sprinkle to marinara sauce. I tend to reach for it often because just a bit will really perk up most savory dishes

                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                              I am actually sort of happy with the True Lemon, been using it since it first came out. Penzey just isn't in my orbit.

                              My favorite use is to put a packet in a bottle of plain water, all of a sudden it's palatable. Marinara though, that doesn't compute.

                              1. re: coll

                                Coll, I didn't know that you had your own *orbit* -- that explains a lot! LOL ;-) I need to get one of those! Also since I'm not familiar with True Lemon, I had to look it up, and according to the website, the ingredients are: Crystallized Lemon [citric acid, malic acid, lemon oil, lemon juice, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)]. Apparently there is an unsweetened version, as well. It's a lot cheaper than Penzey's powdered lemon peel. I will look for it and give it a try, thanks!

                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                  They are individual little packets, each is perfect for a 16z bottle of water. That's what I like about them the most.

                                  OK spinning back into space, see you later!

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Thanks for the info about TrueLemon, coll! I'd not heard of this, and damned if it isn't sold in an Ocean State Job Lot in my town (as well as several stupidmarkets - I just never go down the "powdered drink aisle"). Will check it out. I like the idea of adding a bit to my water bottle at work.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      I couldn't drink bottled water without it! If only they made a lime version, then we could circumvent the recent issues with the price of limes for the time being.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        Hi coll - they do actually make a lime version. I don't know what the difference is, but they have their products separated into "for your water" and "for cooking, baking and beverages" and it's in the second category. I just ordered two of the grapefruit, so I got a box of the lime for free.

                                        1. re: gmm

                                          Oh wow, that is great news. Thanks!

                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                        TrueLemon is the best...and the kime and orange varieties are very good as well. I've ruined a few dishes with lemon oil, and reconstituted lemon juice (which depending on the brand usually has too much lemon oil in it).
                                        The TureLemon stuff is really the next best thing to fresh lemon, and has the advantage of not adding extra liquid to what you're making.
                                        Great stuff.

                                        1. re: The Professor

                                          Yeah, lemon oil often has a slightly bitter taste (and I use Boyajian) and I dislike its "after taste".

                                          This TrueLemon would be SUPERB in my Lemon-Blueberry Sour Cream Cake!

                                2. re: MrsPatmore

                                  Mrs. Patmore,

                                  I'll try it! I love Penzey's products. Thanks.

                              2. re: greygarious

                                If for some reason you live in an area where you can't find True Lemon, unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid also works. Sounds weird, but it contains basically the same ingredients, including lemon juice solids. I used it when I wanted to boost the flavor in lemon frosting before True Lemon was on the market.

                                1. re: gmm

                                  This just had *must check this out* written all over it, but you're right, they're very close!

                                  Ingredient Lists:

                                  True Lemon: Citric Acid, Lactose (Milk Derivative) , Lemon(s) Juice, Lemon(s) Oil, Maltodextrin, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

                                  Lemonade Kool-Aid: Citric Acid, Calcium Phosphate, Salt, Maltodextrin, Flavor(s) Natural, Lemon(s) Juice Solids, Ascorbic Acid, Color(s) Artificial, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, BHA

                                  I see a Taste Test in my future. "Do you like your Hollandaise with or without the Kool-Aid in it?" :)

                                  1. re: RelishPDX

                                    Did you check this out? http://truelemon.com/store-locator
                                    I did and turns out every store near me has something made by them, and the one store I go to the least has the lime and orange zest/juice packets. I already have a large supply of the lemon, so I am now stocked up for any emergency!

                                    1. re: coll

                                      Yeah, I saw that. It's on my list to buy when I swing by a store near me which carries Kool-Aid for like 10¢ a packet.

                                      This is gonna be hilarious. I can just feel it. I am so waiting for my shopping trip this weekend. I'm going to make Eggs Benedict for breakfast on Sunday.

                                    2. re: RelishPDX

                                      Let us know how it turns out! :)

                                      1. re: gmm

                                        So I found True Lemon at Dollar Tree yesterday, 12 packets in the box for a buck, and the Lemonade Kool-Aid at Winco for 10¢. A couple of things to report:

                                        The ingredient lists are slightly different on the packages than what I'd copied above from the internet.

                                        Updated Ingredient Lists:

                                        True Lemon: Crystallized Lemon [Citric Acid, Lemon Oil, Lemon Juice, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)], Organic Evaporated Cane Juice

                                        Lemonade Kool-Aid: Citric Acid, Calcium Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Salt, Contains less than 2% of Natural Flavor, Lemon Juice Solids, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, BHA (Preserves Freshness)

                                        Not that it matters to me, but just for completeness' sake, the True Lemon says it's made in the USA, the Kool-Aid says it's made in Mexico.

                                        Looks like the biggest change is in the True Lemon, changing the source of the sweetener from Lactose to Evaporated Cane Juice.

                                        Then, I hadn't thought about serving sizes, but I kind of calculated on the back of an envelope that two packets of True Lemon would equal a little less than 1/8th of a teaspoon of Kool-Aid.

                                        TASTE TEST:

                                        Taking one for the team, I made a triple batch of Hollandaise Sauce this morning, and divided it into three bowls. Of the three, I liked the one with Kool-Aid better! It had a nice lemon kick to it which didn’t taste of chemicals, it tasted of concentrated lemon. The True Lemon version was very close as a second, but didn’t have as tart of a taste while having the same amount of lemony flavor. The unadulterated version was somewhat bland in comparison.

                                        Now my only quandary is how to replicate this for a single serving of hollandaise, as I usually make it. How do I add 1/3 of 1/8th of a teaspoon of Kool-Aid powder to the sauce?!? Cut it with some sort of neutral filler, I’d guess. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

                                        For ease of use, I’ll probably end up going with simply adding a packet of True Lemon in the future and calling it a day if there isn’t a way to measure out a tiny bit of Kool-Aid consistently. I really like the idea of using a lemon powder flavoring to hollandaise rather than more lemon juice, as it doesn’t thin the sauce out.

                                        Now on to poach some eggs, I've got lots of hollandaise to use up. :)

                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            You're welcome! It was a lot of fun.

                                            While viewing later posts, I just realized I made an observational error in my conclusion.

                                            The scant 1/8th of a tsp of Kool-Aid was added to 1/3 of the finished sauce—I don't know why I was thinking in future I'd need to cut that by a third for my regular hollandaise prep for any other reason than I hadn't had enough coffee yet this morning when typing this out, and was still dividing everything in my mind by thirds. :)

                                2. Zest has already been suggested. The only other way I can think of is to concentrate the lemon juice by boiling until it is half the volume you started with. That would work, too.

                                  1. Is it actual lemon that you are missing - if so, lemon zest for sure - if it's more acid that you are looking for, perhaps some vinegar along with the lemon juice - use a good quality white wine vinegar or tarragon would be good too!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: harryharry


                                      Well, I thought that what I needed was more lemon flavor. But acidity and lemon flavor go together and perhaps my taste buds were craving more acid, rather than more lemon flavor. I'll try out more acid, too, and see if that works. (However, there is an upper limit in the amount of acid I can add for the same reason that there is an upper limit to the amount of lemon juice I can add. Too much makes the Hollandaise too thin.) Thanks!

                                    2. Ha - I see that no one has mentioned the obvious yet: ZEST!!!! Lots of it. Yum.

                                      3 Replies
                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            I'll add irony to the sarcasm . . . I have several lemon trees in my yard and even though they produce fruit with abundance nearly year-round, I still often find myself in need of a lemon! Hence, I keep powdered lemon peel on hand. O_o

                                      1. On ATK, when they want more concentrated flavor AND less liquid, they reduce. You could experiment with that.

                                        1. In addition to lemon zest, you can try adding preserved lemons, minced/chopped.

                                          1. Ground sumac is a spice that adds a lemony flavor to dishes without adding liquid or acid. The only potential drawback is aesthetic, in that it's a red powder, and will therefore change the look of your Hollandaise. I use it a lot, but especially in cases where I'm using dairy that I don't want to curdle. You can find it in stores that sell Middle Eastern spices.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: plasticanimal

                                              Williams-Sonoma has ground sumac, too--I learned this after searching all over Cape Cod to find it.

                                            2. Wow! Thanks to everyone for replying. There were all sorts of suggestions which I had never heard of (or thought of) before.

                                              To summarize: ground sumac (if I don't mind the red color, which I don"t); preserved lemons; reduction of the lemon juice by boiling to intensify the flavor; white wine or tarragon vinegar (to increase the acid "bite" but not necessarily the lemon intensity); lemon oil (but watch out for bitterness); True Lemon--a sort of freeze dried lemon juice--I never heard of this one before and will be sure to try it; citric acid; dried and powdered orange slices; Penzey's Lemon Peel Powder; and Olave from Whole Foods. Olave confuses me a bit. It's an olive oil?

                                              Anyway, thanks to all. I'll make that Hollandaise sauce acceptably lemony, yet!

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                You left out what I think is the easiest, cheapest, and tastiest one: ZEST.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  Which is hilarious, b/c zest was suggested just aboot a million times or so here.

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    Actual lemon isn't the cheapest or easiest, either. Lemon zest loses its potency quickly so while it CAN be dried or frozen, the results are poor.

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      Gotcha. I figured with something like hollandaise, which is prepared à la minute most of the time, zesting a lemon would be a no-brainer and easy enough to do.

                                                      Maybe not.

                                                  2. re: sandylc


                                                    So I did! I will be sure and try it too. Leaving it out was inadvertent. Thanks.

                                                  3. re: gfr1111

                                                    How much lemon juice are you putting into your Hollandaise? I posted the recipe I use the other day in another thread, and have used up to almost 2 tbsp of lemon juice without it ever curdling or becoming too thin.


                                                    I do like the TrueLemon and Lemon Peel Powder suggestions, too.

                                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                                      "dried and powdered orange slices"

                                                      I guess you meant also lemon slices.

                                                      Lemons are on offer 1.49€ kg which is good price for Finland - going to get 5 kg and get peel with Oxo peeler (best I've found so far - takes thin wide strip of peel) - then take off the white (pith) - slice and dry together with zest - and then make a powder with coffee bean-type grinder.

                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                        Olave is extra virgin olive oil , made with organically grown olives, and natural lemon. It's really a finishing oil, you wouldn't want to cook with it. But as I said, I never buy the same brand twice, so I'm not recommending that brand in particular.

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          Olave also sells plain olive oil, which might be why there's confusion.

                                                        2. re: gfr1111

                                                          I'm wondering whether timing of when you add the juice makes a difference. ie. adding early in the cooking process mutes the flavor, adding right before service is freshest and brightest and most lemony.

                                                          1. re: katnat

                                                            Probably both would be optimum, if looking for really lemony flavor. However as the dish reduces, any juice etc added early should intensify, if anything.

                                                            1. re: katnat

                                                              I don't think I'd want to add liquid or change the pH of the sauce once it's set. I could be wrong about this of course, and it would be an interesting experiment.

                                                              Next time I make a batch, I'll double it, take out what I need, then see how the remainder reacts to additional liquid and acid.

                                                              1. re: katnat


                                                                That could be. I add the lemon juice at the beginning of the process of making Hollandaise sauce. I"ll try adding it later. Thanks.

                                                            2. Lemon oil (boyijian)

                                                              Dehydrated lemon juice ( true lemon)

                                                              1. They make lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit.

                                                                The first three are in Stop and Shops near the sugar. Haven't found grapefruit yet.

                                                                I use them all the time.

                                                                15 Replies
                                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                  Thanks to all for this info! I have Stop and Shop right around the corner. I should be adding these to my recent thread about what dried stapled do you keep on hand as emergency replacements. This is a perfect example.

                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                    C.Ham, are you sure these are the TrueLemon, TrueLime, etc.? Or are they the lemonade versions? That's all that Market Basket seems to carry, per TrueLemon's website.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      Yes. It's the True brand. Boxes of packets of juice.

                                                                      I stumbled across it about 3 years ago at the NQuincy Stop and Shop and now I can't live without it.

                                                                      Used to be by the teabags but moved to near sugar.

                                                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                        Well, I picked up the TrueLemon "Original Lemonade" at Hannafords just to see. Nope - tastes like fake lemonade to me. And I used probably only 1/4 tsp. in my water bottle this morning.

                                                                        I'll have to stop at the Stop & Shop in Andover to see if they have the TrueLemon NON-lemonade version.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          LIndaWhit - your store may carry the non-lemonade powder in the baking aisle next to the sweeteners. My store has the lemonade in with the water enhancers and powdered drink mixes, but the plain lemon or lime powder is with the sugar and artificial sweeteners. I don't care for the lemonade either.

                                                                          1. re: gmm

                                                                            gmm, Hannafords had it with the water enhancers. Someone else was upstairs when the courtesy desk guy called upstairs to the grocery manager to ask if they carried it, and she came down to find me and lead me to both the baking aisle (nothing there) and then over to the powdered drink mix/water enhancers section. I'm trying to remember if we looked near the sugar/artificial sweeteners in the baking aisle, and I don't think so. All I remember was a lot of Jello pudding mixes. I'll have another look-see right at the sugar area next time I go there. Otherwise, Stop & Shop is (sort of) on the way home from work, so I can check there as well.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              Mine was located in the sugar section at Stop and Shop. I used the "finder" I posted upstream http://truelemon.com/store-locator: it was the only store in the area out of four or five to carry the non-lemonade version. The finder is great, because it also tells you the section of the store where they stock the item. Stop and Shop was also the only one to carry lime and orange

                                                                              I was surprised that every store in the area carried something of that brand, either way. I remember when it was being introduced three or four years ago, but only to foodservice for take out counters, and I had my doubts. Glad it's so easily available now! I had hoarded a bag full of samples at the time and was dreading running out.

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                Datapoint: I didn't find True Lemon at the Safeway nearest to me which is listed on the website as a stocking location, I just happened to see it at Dollar Tree while shopping for some containers, and grabbed it.

                                                                                I'll make a note to see if it's at Fred Meyer next time I'm near one, the other chain here in Portland where it's supposed to be stocked.

                                                                                1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                                  Nor did I find it in Ocean State Job Lot near me. But that is probably to be expected, as OSJL is a "clearance" store and probably only had it until their stock ran out. It seems S&S is the only one to have the actual TrueLemon vs. the "original Lemonade", so I'll have to stop there.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    The OSJL in Tewksbury had it when I was there a couple of weeks ago.

                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                      That's the one near me. Either they've sold out of their stock, OR I looked in 4 wrong aisles, OR I'm blind. I pick Door #3 for $600, Monty.

                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                  Thanks, Coll. The website you supplied indicated that my favorite grocery near my house stocks True Lemon. It is in the organic foods section, which, ordinarily, I rarely visit. I am looking forward to trying it in my Hollandaise sauce.

                                                                                  1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                    Funny how every chain stocks it in a completely different place. That finder app is a godsend!

                                                                      2. re: C. Hamster

                                                                        I use lemon. lime and orange like it was no tomorrow - and I really loke good fresh grapefruit and its juice - but every time I have tried to use grapefruit in 'cooking' it has been a total disaster.

                                                                        If I was to try it again - what's the best 'entry door?'

                                                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                          My son has SID and when he was little his PT recommended TrueLemon and lime. The sourness can really help calm/center a kid. To this day I keep a box in the house. Interesting to hear about the pink grapefruit. I would love that!!

                                                                          1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                            A good natural extract is flavor extracted from the zest. All of these suggestions will provide different nuances of flavor.

                                                                          2. There is a product on the market called True Lemon as well as True Lime and orange. They are dessicated juices, powdered juice. I use them in butter cream frosting and other things where I want to boost the flavor and not risking something like Hollandaise breaking or making it too thin.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                                              True Lemon has already been mentioned a few times above.

                                                                            2. I have never found Boyajian lemon oil to be bitter but it can be overpowering if you aren't careful with it.

                                                                              That's one of the reasons I like True so much.

                                                                                1. I wonder how long hollandaise sauce lasts in the fridge?

                                                                                  While poking around at containers this morning I found one of the examples from my taste test on April 27, so that makes it about 3 weeks old now.

                                                                                  It doesn't smell or look funny, and there's only a very slight amount of moisture collected on one edge on the top, which could just be from condensation that had collected when I first sealed it up in the plastic container.

                                                                                  I was going to do Eggs Benedict again tomorrow to use up some of the bacon I've left ... hmm, wonder if three-week old sauce is still safe to eat if I nuke it? The high acid content from the lemon juice, being in the coldest spot in the fridge, and not having opened it until now have all probably contributed to it being free from contaminants.

                                                                                  What say you?

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                                    Hollandaise doesn't reheat. It turns into grease with scrambled egg bits floating in it.

                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                      Sure you can. Mine reheated excellently in the microwave. I just gave it 10-second bursts at a time, stirring each time, and you couldn't tell it from freshly-made.

                                                                                      That was a couple of weeks ago with sample #2 from my taste test.

                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                          Have a Bloody Mary with it, the vodka will kill the germs (or so my mother would say!)

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                            I was too chicken to eat it, being three weeks old now, but this is what the hollandaise looked like after 8 10-second bursts in the microwave, stirred lightly with a whisk between each nuking.

                                                                                            It came out with the texture and warmth I'd have no problem using to pour over Eggs Benedict.

                                                                                            1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                                              I've learned something new! Thanks. Now I don't have to eat ALL of the hollandaise when I make it! ;-)

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                For completeness sake, a fresh batch on today's Eggs Benedict (complete with Kool-Aid in the sauce):

                                                                                    2. I just recently experimented by sprinkling True Lemon and salt on fish before grilling it. Yum.