Fresh Lemon Substitutes

By Cook's Illustrated Published December 2008

We found two emergency substitutions.

In many recipes, a fresh lemon with both juice and zest is essential. But when squeezed for time, will anything else do? To find out, we tested six packaged lemon juice products both in lemonade and in lemon curd. Not surprisingly, none came close to beating the tart, clean, bright flavor of fresh-squeezed lemon juice when tasted in lemonade. But when cooked in the lemon curd, ReaLemon lemon juice from concentrate and True Lemon crystallized lemon juice both capably mimicked the acidity of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and were deemed acceptable in a pinch. Both can be found at grocery stores nationwide—ReaLemon in the bottled juice aisle, and True Lemon in the baking aisle.