The Fresh Swap For Lemon Juice That Brings A Tamer Acidic Taste

Lemon juice is a culinary powerhouse. Think about it. What can't the ingredient do? Its acidic nature has a hand in tenderizing tough proteins, much like it does in leavening baked goods to their fullest. Lemon juice can also keep other elements of taste like sweetness or spiciness in balance. But, one of the best qualities of the tangy ingredient is that it can enhance and brighten flavors, helping create a more delicious dish. However, if citrus is a tad too tart for your liking, you can swap it out for celery juice.

Celery juice doesn't have a distinct sourness like that of lemon juice, but it does boast a sharp bitterness. Despite falling on different ends of the pH scale, the two ingredients actually produce sensations that are commonly confused for one another, which explains why alkaline celery juice is interchangeable with acidic lemon juice. What's more, although celery juice still offers a sharp bite, it's much milder when compared to even mellow citrus substitutes like sweet-meets-zesty orange juice.

Regardless of the fact that celery juice may possess a sour-adjacent quality that's similar to that of a less-tart lemon, it still has its own unique flavor profile. While lemon juice is floral and fruity, celery juice is instead grassy and earthy. Yet, just as lemon juice brings a clean crispness to any dish thanks to its acidity, the same can be true of refreshingly vibrant (and still very acrid) celery juice.

What to consider before trading lemon for celery juice

The good news is that substituting just-pressed celery juice in place of freshly squeezed lemon juice is actually very simple, as it follows a 1:1 ratio. The not-so-good news is that making the swap isn't always in your best interest. Prior to trading one for the other, think about the recipe at hand. In dishes that feature lemon juice as a main ingredient like citrus-glazed chicken or citrusy roasted haddock, it's best to avoid substitution. 

Naturally, the same applies to citrusy sweet treats like pies, curds, sorbets, or lemonade as celery juice will prove too vegetal. There are, however, still many occasions when making the swap is feasible. In fact, sometimes it's even recommended. For instance, whenever a recipe calls for a modest amount of lemon juice, you can easily pour in fresh celery juice instead. Substitute a few teaspoons to perk up a cheesy risotto, or work a tablespoon into an herbaceous vinaigrette

Additionally, since bitterness and sourness both share a palate-cleansing quality, earthy and acrid celery juice also makes an effective swap in dishes where richness would otherwise be neutralized with a splash of lemon juice. Anything decadent that's laced with buttery fat or creamy dairy (think velvety sauces) makes a great candidate. In summary, celery juice won't always be a suitable fix. But, in many instances, it does have the potential to mimic the punchy and clean taste of acidic lemon juice — just to a more subtle degree.