I have a fruity beef stew with plums, carrots, beef, onion, beef stock and far too much lemon juice and lemon zest. It tastes too lemony, what can I do to counteract it?

  • Its it the lemon flavor, the acidity, or both which is a problem? If you could only fix one - which would you choose? – brhans Feb 19 at 16:17
  • @brhans It's not acidic.. Its just lemony – Banon Feb 19 at 16:18
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    Generally reducing any flavor in cooking is often done through dilution, though sometimes adding potatoes will absorb the saltiness of a soup/stew. So add more broth and other ingredients to dilute the flavor of lemon that is too strong. – Steve Chambers Feb 19 at 16:23
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    I've no experience of this so will only comment not answer. I would suggest that anything you try, you try first with a small sample of the gravy/sauce rather than chucking stuff into the whole mix. What I'd suggest is a little sugar to highlight the plum carrot and orange, and possibly an aromatic element like garlic to counter the lemonyness. Elsewhere online I see people recommending a tiny pinch of baking soda to neutralise. – Spagirl Feb 19 at 16:52
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    Does this answer your question? How do I reduce the lime flavor in my Slow Cooker roast? – Sneftel Mar 21 at 22:54

Try discarding one cup of liquid, and add one cup of water; reduce until desired. Taste the result, and if it is still too lemony, repeat the process until it is to your liking.

Some unsalted butter after the reduction may also help.

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    Would this not reduce the overall flavor, however? From the question, the OP specifically wants to taste less lemon flavor, not less flavor overall. Dilution here would serve to reduce all of the flavors, rather than just the lemon-y component. – SE Strikes Again Unfortunately Feb 19 at 22:39
  • Even acidity - that can be controled with alkaline ingredients - modify the overall result. When discarting one cup of the liquid, I expect a lot of lemon zest to be discarded too - which would help to remove the lemony flavor more than the overall flavor; in fact, that's why I suggest reducing and fat adding after diluting.. to try to bring back the overall flavor withou the lemony – Croves Feb 20 at 18:30
  • If I take a stock that is a bit too strongly flavored with rosemary, and dilute it with water, it loses some of every flavor component, not just the undesired flavor(s). If I remove some of the resultant liquid, and again dilute it, even more flavor is lost; both the desired flavor(s) making up the stock, as well as the rosemary flavor which I hypothetically want to reduce. I think that dilution is not, in this instance, the best approach. Your secondary point about adding fat is good; iAmNoah's answer specifically uses suggestions which do not result in lost overall flavor. – SE Strikes Again Unfortunately Feb 20 at 20:50
  • @SEStrikesAgainUnfortunately To riff on your username, unfortunately this might be the best option. There are very few options to remove a strong, essential oil based flavor. Dilution and then enriching the stock can work. – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Feb 21 at 14:47


  1. generally speaking, mitigate too much citrus zest (bitter) with salt and sweet. that's not always a better option
  2. bury it with something like BBQ or some other strongly flavored sauce
  3. turn the main dish into an ingredient in some other dish

bitter from citrus is a tough one, since it seems to be strengthened with more cooking

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Let's get that awesome stew fixed and 'souped' up. Get it?

Now, although I've never tried these remedies you could:

  • Add 1-2 spoonfuls of sugar (depending on the quantity of stew)
  • Add some fat (yogurt, butter, sour cream, olive oil)

Good luck.

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