I can not afford so many fresh lemons to make lemonade. What would be the equivalent for 6 fresh lemons if using citric acid instead?

Can Tartaric replace fresh lemons which are very hard to find where I live?

  • 1
    Lemonade from citric acid, "home made"?
    – SF.
    Mar 10, 2016 at 13:29
  • 6
    Might as well buy powdered lemonade.
    – Catija
    Mar 10, 2016 at 13:46
  • Can't you buy bags of lemons instead of individual lemons? Much cheaper. You need about 4 lemon per liter to make decent lemonade.
    – Escoce
    Mar 10, 2016 at 14:59
  • At those quantities, you might want to check around to see if there's a restaurant supply store that sells produce (vs. the ones that only sell equipment). Near me there's Restaurant Depot ... it's a US chain, but you need to show you're affiliated w/ a business, non-profit (eg, church) or government to get access. Second best would be 'warehouse clubs', which sell in large-ish quantities. You can also try asking at restaurants if they can get you some ... they might mark it up some, but they'd likely have the connections. (this is easier to do if it's for a school or church event)
    – Joe
    Mar 10, 2016 at 15:41
  • 2
    What about bottled lemon juice. If you can find it by the litre in a catering supplies place it should be quite cheap. Not as good real lemons but so much better than citric acid.
    – Chris H
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


You can very likely buy frozen lemon juice or juice concentrate, even if you can't buy fresh lemons. (This is different from frozen lemonade concentrate.)

This is what we do often when we're making large batch lemonade; while it's not quite as good as fresh lemon juice, it's usually close enough that it's not noticeable.

For example:

Minute Maid Lemonade

It's kept in the freezer section. That jar is roughly seven lemons' worth of juice; each one makes something like 2-3 liters of lemonade, depending on your strength requirements. I usually put a few sliced fresh lemons in with the pitcher after that.


Lemon juice contains somewhere between 4-6% citric acid by weight; let's call that an average of 5%. It does contain tartaric acid, but in trace amounts only, so this would not be an effective substitution. Lemon juice also contains about 2% sugar by weight. So to produce 1 liter of a rough lemon juice equivalent, you would need to combine:

  • 50 g citric acid
  • 20 g glucose (you'll probably have to use table sugar instead)
  • 930 mL water (equivalent to 930 g)

This is a possibly effective, but honestly pretty poor substitute. Though citric acid is the major flavoring element, lemon juice contains many other vitamins/minerals, and lemons have a huge range of volatile flavor compounds that contribute to their aroma. If you squeeze fresh lemons, many of these compounds ultimately make their way into your lemonade and give it a distinctive "fresh lemon" quality. (You may be able to compensate for some of these by adding in a highly flavorful lemon extract.)

By the time we've approximated lemon juice with this fairly basic substitute, we've lost those distinctively "lemon" flavors, and may as well use a powdered, concentrated, or commercially produced lemonade instead.

  • Thank you All.Your advise is much appreciated. Seems to me fresh lemons can not be replaced without losing the quality I wish my Lemonade to be.
    – Tilla
    Mar 10, 2016 at 16:00
  • And that's even before you add zest as some recipes do.
    – Chris H
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:53

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