Many cooking processes excel with the addition of acidic fruit juice. And lemon juice is one of the most commonly infused ingredients for such cases. Because it’s rich in flavour, it adds brightness to many recipes‘ tastes. And in times when you need to find a replacement, lime juice is commonly the first suggestion on everyone’s lips.
But knowing it’s a helpful substitute isn’t enough. And while both are very close, lemon and lime also bear distinct properties. So, it helps to understand how these differences affect the use for which it’s employed.
What’s Lemon Juice Used For?
Lemon juice can be available in pre-bottled forms, but many recipes suggest you squeeze it fresh from the fruit when needed. And it’s a handy ingredient for adding a robust citrus flavour to dishes. Lemon juice works in both sweet and savoury dishes alike and is also great for baking. In the latter, its low pH level allows jams and jellies to attain structure, causing proper leavening in baked goods. It’s also used to infuse a robust bright flavour in toppings and icy desserts as well.
Foods aren’t the only places in which lemon juice is used. It’s also a fantastic flavour enhancer in drinks and beverages, which is why you’ll find it in cocktails. You can also employ lemon juice for canning purposes, as its acidic composition prevents the growth of botulin spores. And more recipes where lemon juice is commonly added include the following;
- Lemon loaf
- Spaghetti a Limone
- Lemon curd
- Roast fish
- Roasted asparagus
- Grilled chicken
- Grilled fish
- Lemon cake
- Frozen Boozy Arnold Palmer
- Warm Comfort
- Homemade canned salsa
- Rice recipes
- Doughnut glazes
- Sheet-Pan Trout
- Fleming Fizz
- Avocado and Lemon Water
- Instant Pot Chicken
- Thyme Out
- Lemon Ice
- Lemon Ginger Electrolyte drink
- Semolina-Lemon syrup cake
- Lemon Panna Cotta
- Grilled Lemon Shandy
Lemon vs. Lime Juice
Both lemons and limes come from the citrus family and share a similar base flavour. They’re both also acidic due to the presence of natural citric acid in the juice. But while they’re close in composition, lemons and limes still share particular distinctions.
First, lemon juice is slightly sweeter, which is why most believe its flavour is more potent. As such, it offers a tastier citrus flavour to recipes, and you’ll note the hint better than with lime juice. Second, lime juice is more acidic compared to lemon juice. While the latter has an approximated pH value of 2.00 to 2.35, the former beat its maximum range at 2.60. This highly acidic property also makes lime juice tangier than lemon juice.
Substituting Lemon Juice with Lime Juice
Regardless of these differences, you can still use lime juice to replace lemon juice in most recipes. The key, however, is to note these distinctions, so you can swap without affecting the final result of your dish.
Most recipes like pasta, dips, and grilled foods add lemon juice to brighten the dish’s flavour. This advantage is due to its acidic nature and citrusy taste, which blends well with grains, meats, and fish recipes. And since lime juice also shares these properties, it can be substituted for lemon juice in these aspects. It also works in soups, stews, sauces, and marinades.
But lime juice has a more powerful acidity, which makes it tangier. Also, the liquid may give a somewhat bittersweet flavour to your foods when used, as its presence is easily recognizable. So, it’s best to use less of it when swapping for lemon juice in such dishes. So, for every cup of lemon juice called, replace it with ¾ cup of lime juice.
Lemon juice is also popularly used to make cocktails taste exotic. And depending on the blend of ingredients in the mix, the main factor most mixologists seek is the citrusy flavour. So, equal parts of lime juice can be used in place of lemon juice for such recipes. And because the tastes of numerous other additions will showcase, you’d barely notice the difference.
It’s advised to stick to lemon juice if the dessert recipe depends on its flavours, like lemon cake or lemon ice. But for cold desserts and toppings that only need a blend of tanginess and citrusy, you can make an equal switch with lime juice. Still, many may fear that the bittersweet nature of lime juice will overwhelm the recipe. As such, try adding ¾ parts lime juice for every part lemon juice required. For here, you can adjust the quantity to preference till you reach your magic measurement.
Lemon juice is also used in home canning processes for jams, jellies, tomato sauces, and salsas. The acidic nature of the liquid prevents the pathogen botulin from growing while the food is in storage. And lime juice makes an excellent and perhaps even better substitute for this purpose. The reason is that lime juice is more acidic than lemon juice.
Other Helpful Lemon Juice Substitutes
You can also consider many alternatives that share similar properties with lemon juice. These options help in times when you have neither in your pantry.
Since they’re both from the same family, this works for times when you seek the sweetness and citrus taste of lemon juice. But orange juice is sweeter, with less acidity compared to lemon juice. So, consider using less of it as a replacement, and only in cases where lemon juice isn’t a primary ingredient.
For a convenient lemon juice replacement, you can always consider vinegar. And because it’s also an acidic ingredient, it works in places where that zingy sour flavour is needed. It’s great in cooking and baking and works perfectly for replacing small amounts of lemon juice.
In the absence of the juice, lemon zest is perfect for infusing the lemon flavour into a recipe. And it’s great for times when you specifically need the substitute to be lemon-based. And though you’ll need more of it, especially in baking, it’s still excellent in desserts and toppings. It also comfortably replaces lemon juice in cocktails and other drinks.
Apart from being the most commonly found acid in citrus fruits, citrus acid is also sold separately. And it’s perfect for fusing the tang and flavour expected from citrus fruits. It’s an ideal way to replace lemon juice, though you’ll need more water to make up for its dry consistency. It’s also best for baking, and a teaspoon is equal to ½ cup of lemon juice in acidity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I substitute bottled preserved lemon juice for fresh lemon juice?
In some recipes, yes. But it works best when the instruction calls for a small amount of lemon juice. To emphasize, the lesser the proportion of fresh lemon juice called for, the better preserved bottled variety works.
Can I use lime juice instead of lemon juice for sugar wax?
The acidity of lemon juice is employed frequently in the sugar wax formula for hair removal. As such, you can also replace it with lime juice if it’s what you have.
Does lime juice work like lemon juice for cleaning?
Yes, they do. Lime juice will also add more acidity to your homemade cleaning formula, making it a better alternative.
Lime juice can be switched to lemon juice, and we’ve stated the many ways. Now that you know making a switch from one to the other shouldn’t pose any issues. And it also gives you more options to work with, making your cooking, baking, and general domestic processes more enjoyable.