What is Citric Salt?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A bottle and cup of laundry detergent. Citric salts are often added to laundry detergent to make it more effective.
A bottle and cup of laundry detergent. Citric salts are often added to laundry detergent to make it more effective.

Citric salt is actually an acid, not salt as cooks conventionally think of it. It is an acidic substance commonly found in citrus fruits which is added to foods to make them more tart and sour tasting. Other industries also use citric salt, which pops up as a stop bath in photography, an additive in hair products, and as a water softener. Many grocery stores sell this salt, usually in the spices or in the kosher foods section. It may also be labeled as sour salt or citric acid.

When it dries, citric acid turns into a white crystalline powder.
When it dries, citric acid turns into a white crystalline powder.

Citric acid was first discovered in acidic fruits in at least the 1300s, and it was isolated by the 1700s. The substance turns into a white crystalline powder when dried, and it does not just appear in citrus fruits. In fact, the vast majority of modern citric acid is created through fermentation, usually by growing bacteria on sucrose, producing citric acid as a byproduct. Since it was first identified in citrus fruits, citric acid continues to carry the “citric” name.

Citric salt is an acidic substance commonly found in citrus fruits which is added to foods to make them more tart and sour tasting.
Citric salt is an acidic substance commonly found in citrus fruits which is added to foods to make them more tart and sour tasting.

When used in cooking, this salt can completely change the flavor of a food. Cooks who are not familiar with it should use citric salt sparingly, since it can ruin a dish if used to excess. A few grains can be used as a substitute for citrus juice in a wide range of foods, to achieve a desired tart flavor. Some cooks temper the sourness with sugar, especially in Asian dishes. It is also used in food preservation and canning, as citric salt makes a great preservative.

Since the powdered substance available in supermarkets is a concentrate, it can irritate bare skin or mucous membranes. Care should be taken when handling it, although it is perfectly safe to consume when dissolved in food. A small number of people are sensitive to citric salt, especially in large concentrations, and they may want to avoid it when possible. Excessive consumption has also been shown to be harmful to the enamel of the teeth, as the acid can get corrosive.

There are also uses for this acid around the house. It can be used dissolved in water as a cleaner, and it is especially good at removing hard water stains from sinks and tableware. If hard water is an issue, citric salt can also be added to loads of laundry so that the detergent will foam properly, assuming that the detergent does not already contain citric salt.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

anon90674

All very interesting but the question to be answered is "what is citric acid". That question was not answered by any of the material you presented.

anastasia

If you're allergic to citrus you most likely will be allergic to citric acid and citric salt..Try using a little vinegar, flavored or cider type. I do that with apple pies, as I'm also allergic to anything citrus based or containing citric acid or citric salt. If you also have a contact allergy to citrus, check your shampoo, cream rinse and moisturizers for it..You don't want the resulting dermatitis this may cause..

anon19813

i have an allergy to citrus and i am looking for a substitute for lemon juice -peel in cooking recipes

can anyone help please?

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    • A bottle and cup of laundry detergent. Citric salts are often added to laundry detergent to make it more effective.
      By: Kitch Bain
      A bottle and cup of laundry detergent. Citric salts are often added to laundry detergent to make it more effective.
    • When it dries, citric acid turns into a white crystalline powder.
      By: ogichobanov
      When it dries, citric acid turns into a white crystalline powder.
    • Citric salt is an acidic substance commonly found in citrus fruits which is added to foods to make them more tart and sour tasting.
      By: alexlukin
      Citric salt is an acidic substance commonly found in citrus fruits which is added to foods to make them more tart and sour tasting.