Home canning and food preserving methods would not have been the same without citric acid powder and crystals. Indeed, these citric acid products are versatile ingredients for small-scale storage of food items. The powdered version can be added in flavoring sour candies, juices, drinks, and many more. Another profound application of citric acid is using it in cleaning activities. You can also add it for softening hard water in the natural way.
The name itself signifies that it is an acid, that mimics the water-soluble acid present in citrus fruits. Do not confuse it with ascorbic acid, used for formulation of vitamin C supplements. As we all are aware, citric acid is found in many of the fresh, sour tasting fruits and vegetables. Examples of fruits that serve as rich sources of the same are limes and lemons. The citric acid powder is not extracted from these fruits, but it is made by culturing mold in sugar media under controlled conditions.
A major benefit with using this for canning, is preventing discoloration of cut fruits and vegetables. In simpler words, citric acid powder stops the oxidation that normally takes places in cut surface of fruits. When added in foods, this mild acidic powder also slows down the growth of harmful bacteria, thereby preventing foods from getting spoiled. Thus, if you are fond of storing or canning foods at home, this simple acid will surely make your food preservation task a lot simpler than before.
How to Buy It?
The market is flooded with various product lines of citric acid powder. Nevertheless, the type of citric acid that you need depends on your purpose for using it. Say for instance, for use in cleaning activities, you do not have to be very specific about buying a food grade quality. On the other hand, checking for food safety is mandatory, in case you are purchasing powder form of citric acid for canning fruits. Likewise, determine the amount of citric acid that you want to buy from beforehand.
For canning purpose, you will need 1 tablespoon of citric acid powder for every gallon of water. Unlike other chemical derived food additives, this canning product costs very less. You can purchase it in bulk from Jewish food stores, or from trustworthy health food centers. In case you are buying it from online retailers, perform a brief market survey and check for the product reviews beforehand. That will help you in choosing a reliable product with the best deal.
We often come across situations, when we don't have the required ingredients for a particular food recipe. If such a case happens with citric acid powder, you can still continue making the dish with other food substitutes. So, what can be used to replace citric acid crystals and powder in recipes? A perfect alternative for substituting powder form of citric acid is lemon juice, which we all have some in our refrigerator. If you have fresh lemon, you can squeeze its juice to use as a substitute.
While using lemon juice in place of citric acid products, increase the quantity of juice to get the desired sour taste. You can add 6 tablespoons lemon juice for substituting one tablespoon of citric acid powder. As you are adding lemon juice, adjust the canning water and other ingredients to make the desired consistency. If you neither have powder form of citric acid nor lemon juice, use about 8 tablespoons of vinegar to substitute one tablespoon of powdered citric acid.
To reap maximum benefits, make a point to use only in correct amounts. Say for example, food preservation methods, like freezing, drying and canning require a small quantity of this acidic powder. On the contrary, it is added in larger amounts for cleaning purposes.