It’s not the end of the world if you discover you’re out of lemon concentrate halfway through a recipe. Whether it’s an emergency or you just want a different taste, there are substitutes for lemon concentrate. The concentrate has about the same consistency as juice, it just tastes stronger. While some substitutes may not add the same amount of moisture as the concentrate, all add a boost of flavor. For the best results, always use a substitute to taste instead of following exact ratios. Add the substitute a little at a time, tasting as you go, until you reach the desired flavor potency.
Other concentrates, most especially lime, are suitable replacements for lemon concentrate. Lime concentrate provides the same tangy bite as lemon, just with a slightly different citrus flavor. It can be used tablespoon to tablespoon for lemon concentrate. Orange juice concentrate is thicker and sweeter than lemon concentrate. However, it can be watered down slightly so that it is watery, yet strong, like the lemon concentrate. The key is to water it down enough to make it thin, but not so much that it dilutes the flavor to regular strength. Other citrus juice concentrates, such as lemonade concentrate, can also be watered down slightly and used as a substitute. The watered-down version of the juice concentrate can be used tablespoon to tablespoon for lemon concentrate.
Citrus juice, such as lime or lemon, is a water-filled version of concentrate. You can create your own concentrate by boiling out some excess water from the juice. Let the juice cool and you have a concentrated version to use. The concentrate may not be as strong as store-bought versions, but it will still provide a powerful citrus flavor. Use the substitute tablespoon to tablespoon for lemon concentrate. You can also use plain lemon juice as a replacement to give a much lighter hint of lemon flavor to the dish.
Citrus extract contains citrus oil diffused in alcohol. It has a potent taste that is stronger than concentrate, however, it’s not as sweet. The extract works best when a hint of lemon flavor is desired, such as in cakes. It does not work when lemon is the base flavor, such as in lemonade. Use several drops of the oil mixed with a little sugar water for every tablespoon of lemon concentrate.
Vinegar can be a suitable substitute for lemon concentrate in certain recipes. Dishes that use the lemon concentrate for a tart background flavor, such as barbecue sauce, can use vinegar instead. However, recipes that use the lemon as a feature flavor, such as lemon bars, cannot use vinegar. Use lightly flavored vinegars, such as white wine vinegar, to keep the flavor unobtrusive. Avoid heavily flavored vinegars, such as apple cider or seasoned, to prevent flavor clashes. Vinegar has a strong bite, so use slightly less vinegar than lemon concentrate called for in the recipe.
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