ReaLemon/Lime acidity

kayskatsJune 13, 2007


after reading various posts, I was still confused about the actual acidity of ReaLemon and ReaLime. Below is their response to my querry:

Thank you for contacting us about ReaLemon. Your comments and inquiries are appreciated because they provide valuable feedback about our brands.

Here is some information about the acidity of Realemon and Realime:

ReaLemon Acidity (as citric acid) 49-51 g/L

Brix 6.5-8.0%

pH 2.4-2.6

SO2 250ppm

Cadbury Schweppes has been making great brands that people love for more than 200 years. We are proud of our family of beverage and confectionery products and are committed to providing a wide range of choices for all individuals.

(a subsequent exchange prompted the info that the acidity for ReaLime is the same)

I'm no scientist, but I intrepret the Brix to mean acidity and between 6.5 and 8% -- which seems a rather wide range.


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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Long time ago, I tried the Real Lime, it was awful, and I think the Real Lemon is that way too! Now, I buy the Nellie & Joe's lime juice and have been for many years. I go through a case of 12 bottles about every 6 months or so, and have to buy it on line as most stores don't carry it here..

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:40PM
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This is a bit off topic, but does anyone know if the acidity of bottle lemon juice will change over time? I pretty much only use the bottled stuff for canning tomatoes so a bottle lasts a long time. Would the old bottles have lower acidity?
I can't imagine actually cooking with stuff, but I guess the chemical taste doesn't bother everyone. My neighbor puts it in her tea.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 2:02PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

OK, we probably need a chemist here, but I'll give it a shot.

There are approximately 1000 g/L in water, so the acidity is roughly 5%. However, that's misleading because citric acid is stronger than acetic acid (vinegar). So both are 5% solutions but not the same strength. That's why RL can be subbed for vinegar in canning but not the other way around.

If you look at pH as an indicator of acidity, citric acid is 1.87 and acetic acid is 2.42. (The reason the pH of Realemon is higher is because in the juice other elements neutralize some of the acid.)

So on the whole, it may be more helpful to remember that Linda Lou said RL is about 2x as strong as vinegar. (I hope I remembered that correctly.)

Brix is a measure of the % of sugar. It's helpful in winemaking, jammaking, etc. When I worked in a cannery summers during college I measured Brix in fruit so that we could determine ripeness and how heavy a syrup to make. IIRC, in juices it refers to total soluble solids, which would be sugars and also acids. Doesn't make a bit of difference to us canners to know the level in Realemon, just an interesting fact.

SO2 is just the amount of anti-oxidant (sulphur dioxide - probably contributes to the "great flavor" Ken mentioned).

Acidity changes (lowers) as fruit ripens, but it should be stable in a product like Realemon. However, its life isn't indefinite and personally, I buy the smallest quantity possible as I use little. I don't carry opened bottles over from season to season. I actually had some Realemon mold in the refrigerator. (Shows how much I use it!)


    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 3:39PM
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okay ... I'm right back where I started, except I now know that referring to vinegar as 5% refers to volume not degree of acidity. (I think)

Linda Lou's 2X strength was part of my original confusion since the USDA tomato canning guide says one tablespoon bottled juice; alternatively 4 tablespoons vinegar.

What am I missing.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 4:02PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, at one time it was a home standard as '7% acidity' for vinegar. I recall Heinz offering a stronger one at about 18 to 20% too, and was always mixed with water to bring it down to the pickling brine levels. Pickle companies use a 20% strength and dilute it. It makes sense when you consider the transporting costs. I use a 1/2 teaspooon of citric to each a quart jar of tomatoes. Its measured into each jar before filling, just so I don't have to measure each batch beforehand.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 5:53PM
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petrowizard(z5a NE IL)


Part of your confusion may be due to misreading the USDA guide. That says **2** tablespoons of lemon juice to a quart of tomatoes or 4 tablespoons vinegar per quart. That is where the 2X strength comes from.

That response is interesting because it gives a rather large range of pH for bottled lemon. It may not seem large, but you have to remember that pH is a log scale. It's also interesting because the pH is on the same scale (not lower) as numbers for 5% vinegar!


    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 11:18PM
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I'm no chemist but I do understand pH. Is there some confusion between Brix and pH? They state the pH as being 2.4-2.6. To me, that seems like a decent window and that is the indicator of acidity or alkalitity. Not that it makes the product any better in taste, but that seems reasonable to me. Isn't Brix something totally different? Lori

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:45AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Petro, I thought that was interesting too, because I always had heard RL was "standardized"; I hadn't expected a range.

The pH is comparable to that of fresh lemon juice and yes, that is quite acid.

Brix is totally different. It was additional information the respondent chose to include, as is the SO2 level.

I was impressed kayskats got a response at all. I emailed Realemon a year or so ago with a similar question and never got anything back. My email dropped into oblivion.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 10:15AM
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"Acidification: To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes." -- NCHFP, 5th edition

Yeah ... now I got it ... the next-to-last sentence didn't say "two tablespoons per pint" and I misread it. Always did have trouble with word problems in math.

Carol, my problems with relishes get worser and worser. One of the recipes included in that pre-1994 (which I thought was 2002) "So easy ..." was the "Vidalia Onion Relish" -- it isn't in the newer editions. Just dropped out of sight, along with 9 or 10 other relishes. Upon closer study, I halfway understand since the ratio of acid to low-acid veggies was all over the ballpark. The truncated list of recipes is more consistent (with one exception which I'll ask about later).
Seems this Georgia gal won't be canning Vidalia Onion Relish or Pepper Hash or several other relishes. I question the need for so much vinegar, but am not brave enough to swim against the tide.

I had just about given up on ReaLemon answering ... but the answer came in while I was discussing acidity on the forum... and the follow up within 15 minutes. Must be a new boss at Schwepps who really values customer service.

As alway, thanks to all.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 10:49AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Brix is discussed in detail in another thread..

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 10:52AM
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Carol ... if you haven't seen it yet, please read my post on Karen's thread about her Vidalia Onion Relish discoloring... Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:25PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I don't seem to have the recipe for the Vidalia onion relish here. At least I haven't found it quickly. If you will post the recipe here, I will look at it and give you my opinion. Sometimes recipes are dropped just because they sort of "go out of fashion" and are not necessarily unsafe. Somtimes there is a safety issue involved. Now on the U. of Georgia site they have newer recipes, like fruit salsas and things that people are interested. Same with the new Ball book that came out.
Normally we recommend that a person substitutes the same amount of bottle lemon or lime juice for vinegar in recipes. Not in the tomatoes, as you can see, though. Vinegar is not normally given for plain tomatoes any more,either, in the newest publications. We discussed it at our last training classes.
It really won't taste very good in plain tomatoes.
Bottled lemon juice is twice as acidic, but doesn't make things taste as tart as vinegar.
The shelf life of opened lemon juice in the fridge is six months.
You can always freeze it if you want to open it and keep it longer.
You really do need as much added vinegar or other acid a recipe calls for in relish or pickle recipes. It is because the relish/pickles are low acid vegetables you are canning. Without all that added acid they would allow for botulism growth.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:54PM
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Linda Lou the recipe is posted by Karen in a follow up to her post about her Vidalia Onion Relish turning dark. I asked that Carol look at it because the ratio of onions to vinegar seems to be out of whack as I pointed out in my 2nd or 3rd follow up in that thread. I just wanted to be sure Carol saw it. I'd appreciate your input also.

FYI ... I said i "questioned" the amount of vinegar I had been advised to add to a recipe ... I also said, I do not intend to go against the advice. I just won't can that particular relish.

Believe me, I "get it".. botulism is deadly and insiduous, although statistically I'm sure I run a greater risk every time I get behind the wheel of a car.

Since finding the forum, I have spent many hours checking my entire canning repetoire (mostly pickles and relishes), adjusting some to meet current standards and rejecting several others.

You folks have been most kind and gracious sharing your time and knowledge. I ask questions because, just like my 8-year-old grandson, I have a burning desire to know WHY. I do thank you for helping me find out.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:32PM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

I, too, have an inquisitive mind. I bought a bottle of realime juice the other day because I was wondering about substituting it for vinegar in my salsa canning recipe. I figured it would taste pretty good, lime being a flavor used in Mexican dishes (my favorite chip snack is chili and lime flavored tortillas.) But yes, I WAS wondering about the acid content and safety of it. And why doesn't the company that puts out Realemon and Realime product just put the darn info on the bottle??!! Then it would be right there and we inquiring minds wouldn't have to keep emailing them all the time. That is how I ended up here, to see if any of you folks found out.
So, anyone else here from the tomato forum?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 10:36PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Reallime and such are all a blend or concentrated juices and water. They are both suitable as replacements as they contain the same acidty and are both used interchangable.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 9:11AM
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tripe b ... I used 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1/2 cup ReaLime when I made Annie's Salsa. Just opened the first pint (after letting it "meld" a couple of weeks) and it is GOOD. I like the lime. And the vinegar isn't too much.
I had wondered about using just 1/2 cup of ReaLime since it's twice as strong as vinegar, but I couldn't get a definitive answer about the safety of that so I used 1/2 cup of each. Since it tastes so good, I think I'll keep it that way...
I must make more immediately ... half of the first jar is already gone ... just hope the rain we got last night isn't too late ... tomatoes have been scarce, expensive and lousy!!!! Guess I should mosey on over and read what folks are saying on the Tomato forum. - Kay

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 1:02PM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

thanks Kay.race you to the tomato forum!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 1:37PM
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