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Why Does Bottled Lemon Juice Taste Different Than Fresh?

A group of lemons sit on a cutting board.
Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock.com

Lemons are a staple in summer meals. It’s in everything from lemonade (duh) to tangy, bright pastas. Many recipes insist on using freshly squeezed lemons.

But what makes bottled lemon juice taste different from fresh? While the flavor change might be slight, there’s a reason it happens.

When you squeeze fresh lemon juice, there’s little time for it to oxidize as you’re typically adding it to a recipe immediately. There are also no preservatives in fresh lemon juice, but most shelf-stable bottled varieties do feature them. While handy for your product’s longevity, they can add a bitter twist and reduce the fresh, bright flavor of the lemon.

Cuisinart Pulp Control Citrus Juicer

For fast, fresh juice, opt for an electric juicer.

We see nothing wrong with using bottled lemon juice, though. For busy professionals and families, it can be a great quick fix for a recipe. However, if you enjoy the fresh taste too much to let it go, juicing doesn’t have to be difficult.

All you need is a chopstick or kabob skewer to quickly get all of that bright, delicious juice. Simply insert the skewer into the bottom of the lemon and squeeze out the juice over a cup or bowl. Not only will the juice come out easily, but you’ll also avoid seeds.

But if you plan to make some homemade lemonade this summer, don’t feel bad for using the bottled stuff.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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