Can you substitute apple cider vinegar for lemon juice? (+13 alternatives )

In this article, we will answer if apple cider vinegar can be substituted for lemon juice or not. and what are the other alternatives to lemon juice along with the health benefits of lemon.

Can you substitute apple cider vinegar for lemon juice?

Yes, you can substitute apple cider vinegar for lemon juice for both savory and sweet recipes unless lemon is not the staple flavor ingredient in the recipe. Apple cider vinegar should be used in small amounts to avoid ending up with food having a very pungent flavor or fruity taste in savory dishes.

According to the European Fruit Juice Association, which has performed country-specific profiles of fruit juices and nectars by flavors for several European countries, orange juice is the most consumed fruit juice in Portugal (17.4%), followed by peach juice (16.8%), flavor mixes juices, such as multifruit or red fruit juice (15.9%), mango juice (15%), apple juice (10.1%). Other types of fruit juices account for 24.8% of the total consumption (1).

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice and is only mildly acidic and may be used for canning (at a 5% acidity), unless it is a homemade vinegar. Vinegar is added to food in canning processing to increase the acidity and to avoid the risk of Clostridium botulinum (2).

Lemon is very popular among both the savory and sweet dishes to add a tangy hint to it. With a ph of 2 (2), lemon juice also acts as a preservative and tenderizer when added to marinades.

What is a good substitute for lemon juice? 

The best juice for lemon juice is lime juice. This is because it can be used in the same ratio as lemon juice. Some other good substitutes for lemon juice are: 

  • Orange juice 
  • Vinegar 
  • Citric acid 
  • Lemon zest 
  • White wine 
  • Lemon extract 
  • Cream of tartar

Can I substitute vinegar for lemon juice?

Yes, you can substitute vinegar for lemon juice in cooking or baking in small quantities. It is acidic and almost carries the same properties. However, it might not be the ideal substitute if lemon is the main flavor and is required in large quantities. The pungent aroma and vinegary taste can ruin your recipe.

What is a good alternative to lemon juice? 

One of the best alternatives to lemon juice is lime juice. Though slightly more sour and acidic, lime can be used as a substitute because of its similar taste.

Lemon juice is citrus and is often used to add a tangy flavor to drinks and dishes. Here are some other alternatives that you can use (depending on the dish/drink)

  • Orange juice 
  • Lemon zest
  • White whine 
  • Citric Acid 
  • Vinegar

Other substitutes for lemon juice

If you do not have lemon or vinegar, go for the following substitutes that are easy to find in the kitchen.

Lime juice

Lime juice has a comparable ph to lemon juice with a slight change in its taste. Due to the low ph, It is perfect to use as a preservative for canning. Limes are abundant in vitamin C and are often used for flavor and aroma enhancement in foods and beverages and as medicines (3).

Orange juice

Orange juice is less acidic and has a sweet hint to it. When used in smaller amounts, it makes for a good lemon substitute. 

Orange juice contains substantial amounts of several micronutrients such as vitamin C, folate and polyphenols (e.g., hesperidin which is a flavanone). Data obtained from a representative sample of the French population showed that fruit juices contributed to 31% of the daily vitamin C intake of children and to 16% of the daily vitamin C intake of adults (4). 

Critic acid

Citric acid is the main acid present in fruits. In dry and concentrated form, it provides a very pronounced flavor and uses a little quantity. Adjust the liquid part in your recipe to make up for the juice. Citric acid (2-hydroxy-1,2,3-propanetricar-boxylic acid) is a weak tricarboxylic acid and is frequently used as a food additive to provide acidity and sour taste to foods and beverages (5).

Lemon zest

Lemon zest is the perfect substitute for recipes where lemon is the staple ingredient. You can also add lemon zest along with the lemon juice to get a more pronounced flavor of lemon in your recipe. Orange zest can also be used but the flavor will be different.

Lime zest is slightly bitter. The compounds responsible for this bitterness are polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavanones, flavanol, and flavones, of which lemon peel is an abundant source. Ferulic acid was quantified as a major phenolic acid and caffeic acid as minor in peels of citrus fruits (lemons, oranges and grapefruits) and their levels were significantly larger than those of peeled fruits (6).

White wine

Dry white wine in small quantities is a perfect substitute for lemon in savory dishes. It can also be used to deglaze the pan. White wine has a pale yellow to off-white color. It is used in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces (7).

Lemon extract

Lemon extract is a very concentrated lemon essence. One or two drops of this essence are enough to replace almost a cup of lemon acidity and flavor. Adjust the liquid part in your recipe because this essence will only use a drop or two.

Citrus fruits are an important source of bioactive compounds, in particular flavonoids and vitamin C. The main flavonoids found in citrus species are hesperidin, narirutin, naringin, and eriocitrin. In addition to antimicrobial activity, these naturally occurring flavonoids contain antiinflammatory and antitumor compounds that can be used as effective therapeutic agents with low toxicity. Among the citrus fruit extracts, one of the most promising is lemon extract (8).

Cream of tartar

Potassium bitartrate or cream of tartar is made from tartaric acid. It is very acidic and is often used in meringues to add a tangy taste and stabilize the whipped egg structure. A 1% solution at 30°C has a pH of 3.4. It functions to complex with heavy metal ions and to regulate pH; it can have a gentle laxative action if given at adequate levels. The acidulant is used in chemical leavening to release carbon dioxide which produces the loaf volume (7).

Verjuice

It is a highly acidic juice made by extracting juice from unripe citrus fruits like unripe grapes, apples, plums, oranges, gooseberries, etc. A teaspoon of lemon juice can be substituted with a teaspoon of verjuice. Verjuice extract contains alkaloids, tannins, and a high quantity of total flavonoids and total phenols. Besides its antioxidant activity, verjuice is anticarcinogenic (9).

Malt vinegar

Malt vinegar has a sour and nutty flavor similar to a beer because it is made from the same grains except the grains are not fermented to make malt vinegar. It is a good substitute for savory dishes. Malt vinegar is made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentation of an infusion of malted barley and/or cereals or a concentrate thereof, which has been enzymatically converted by the malting process. It contains a minimum of 4% acid content expressed as acetic acid and is brown to dark brown in color. It functions as an acidulant and preservative in foods (7).

Rice vinegar

Substitute rice vinegar for lemon juice for savory dishes like soup, curry or salad dressing in a 1:2 ratio respectively.

Red wine vinegar

Red wine can be substituted for lemon juice for vinaigrette or salad dressings where the flavor and color of red wine do not look inappropriate. Vinegar made by the alcoholic and acetous fermentation of the juices of grapes or wine. It contains a minimum of 4 g/100 cm3 acid expressed as acetic acid (7).

White vinegar

Replace 2Tbsp of lemon juice with 1Tbsp of white vinegar. It is not suitable to use for making jam.

Grapefruit juice

Grapefruit juice has a bitter taste, however, it can be substituted for lemon juice if the sugar is adjusted accordingly. Grapefruit juice contains citric acid and potassium in levels compared to those of lemon juice (5).

Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.

Does balsamic vinegar need to be refrigerated?

What does malt vinegar taste like?

Does vinegar kill ringworm?

Health benefits of lemon juice

Good for heart

1 lemon provides 51% of the RDI of vitamin C, hence, reducing the risk of heart-related problems. Hesperidin and diosmin present in lemon play an important role in lowering cholesterol. Additionally, vitamin C has been shown to improve nitric oxide production of the endothelium, which, in turn, increases vasodilation, reducing blood pressure (10).

Fights anemia

Lemon fights and prevents anemia by improving the bioavailability of iron from meat and plant-based food. Nutritional deficiency anemia mainly results from lack of iron, vitamin B12 & a low vitamin C intake. Foods containing vitamin C enhance iron absorption  these are broccoli, tomatoes, oranges, and lemon (11). 

Prevents renal stones

Lemon juice prevents renal stones from forming by increasing urine volume and ph.

Dietary citrate is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and metabolized to bicarbonate, which may then increase urine pH and citrate excretion. Citrus juices, such as lemon, orange and grapefruit juice, supply large quantities of citric acid and could be a dietary alternative to the pharmacotherapy with alkalizing agents (12).

Conclusion

In this article, we will answer if apple cider vinegar can be substituted for lemon juice or not. and what are the other alternatives to lemon juice along with the health benefits of lemon.

References

  1. Anastácio, Mariana, et al. Determination of trace metals in fruit juices in the Portuguese market. Toxicol rep, 2018, 5, 434-439.
  2. McGlynn, William. Importance of food ph in commerical canning operations. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, 2003.
  3. Mohd-Hanif, Hani, Rosnah Shamsudin, and Noranizan Mohd Adzahan. UVC dosage effects on the physico-chemical properties of lime (Citrus aurantifolia) juice. Food sci, 2016, 25, 63-67.
  4. Chanson-Rolle, Aurelie, et al. Nutritional composition of orange juice: a comparative study between French commercial and home-made juices. Food Nutr Sci, 2016, 7, 252.
  5. Penniston, Kristina L., et al. Quantitative assessment of citric acid in lemon juice, lime juice, and commercially-available fruit juice products. J Endourol, 2008, 22, 567-570.
  6. Singh, Balwinder, et al. Phenolic composition, antioxidant potential and health benefits of citrus peel. Food Res Int, 2020, 132, 109114.
  7. Igoe, Robert S., and Yiu H. Hui. Dictionary of Food Ingredients. Springer Science & Business Media, 2001.  
  8. Conte, Amalia, et al. Effect of lemon extract on foodborne microorganisms. J food protec, 2007, 70, 1896-1900.
  9. Nasser, Mohamad, et al. Phytochemical profile, antioxidant and antitumor activities of green grape juice. Processes, 2020, 8, 507.  
  10. Moser, Melissa A., and Ock K. Chun. Vitamin C and heart health: a review based on findings from epidemiologic studies. Int j mol sci, 2016, 17, 1328.
  11. Bhadra, Preetha, and A. Deb. A review on nutritional anemia. Ind J Nat Sci, 2020, 10, 18466-18474.
  12. Siener, Roswitha. Nutrition and Kidney Stone Disease. Nutrients, 2021, 13, 6.