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Citric acid - powder or crystal form

Posted by psittacinejungle z 5 (My Page) on
Sun, Oct 30, 11 at 0:32

I have been making simple jams for years but have been preparing tomatoes and other things only more recently. When I decided to try canning tomatoes, I bought a one pound bag of citric acid to use as the acidifier, since I didn't think I would like the flavor of lemon juice with tomatoes. That must have been maybe 8 or more years ago. I found that I didn't care for the flavor of the citric acid with tomatoes either. I still buy most of the canned tomatoes I use because of this. The citric acid did not go unused, however. I discovered that when I add it to fruit I am making into (mostly) sugar free jams and preserves, even if the recipe doesn't call for it, we prefer the flavor. Several weeks ago I was about out and couldn't find any in town. I ordered some from a reputable spice vender online. I was totally surprised when I opened my order to see that there is more than one form of citric acid used in the kitchen! Powder.. really powder? What a shock after being used to using a granule more like a course salt!!

The first thing I did was to check weights. It was no surprise to find that the new fluffy powdered citric acid weighs less than the crystals I had been using.. A LOT LESS! (wrote the numbers down but can't find where I put them right now).

Because of this discovery, I was wondering: when canning recipes call for citric acid, which form am I supposed to be using?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

You can use either form as long as you measure them accordingly because they do measure very differently as you have discovered - and you have likely been using much more than required.

The common form sold commercially for use in canning by Ball, Mrs. Wages, etc. is powdered and the acidifcation instructions read "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."

You can add sugar to offset the acid taste if desired, but honestly most find that citric acid in the proper amounts doesn't affect the taste of tomatoes. It's a personal taste buds thing. :)

Dave


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

It calls for citric acid crystals in canning .
I don't know why you don't like home canned tomatoes with it in there. The cans have it added ! Just check and you will see.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

It calls for citric acid crystals in canning .

Where does it say "crystals"?

Maybe it is all in the way one defines the word 'crystal'. The bulk supply of it that I have seen is much more coarse than the Ball or Mrs. Wages is. The bulk is MUCH bigger and more coarse - like the OP said more like very coarse salt.

Sure, by nature citric acid is a crystal in form but not all crystals are the same and the brand name CA is powdered.

Dave


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

I've looked through NCHFP and don't remember seeing a specification on the type of citric acid to use (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). I guess I was hoping that the powdered form is the one normally used in canning, and since I have been using the large crystal form... an 'overdose' would be the reason I didn't care for the tomatoes I bottled up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Acidification


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

How much lemon juice or citric acid should I use when canning tomatoes?

Add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to pints and 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to quarts of tomatoes. Or add one-fourth teaspoon crystalline citric acid to pints and one-half teaspoon crystalline citric acid to quarts of tomatoes. Acid can be added directly to jars before filling. Four tablespoons of 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid, however, it may cause undesirable flavor changes.

Note: Add sugar to offset acid taste if desired.

Note: Don't use fresh lemon juice as it's acidity varies. Tomato canning tablets should not be used as they are ineffective.

Barbara Willenberg, Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

Here is a link that might be useful: citric acid crystals in canning tomatoes.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

I think I may have used the wrong words. Linda-lou, when I searched "crystalline citric acid" as in your information, the chemical/scientific sites discuss citric acid as a "white crystalline powder". I should have asked "powder or granular form." I think you feel that the granular form is the correct one to be using in directions such as those by NCHFP.

Wish I could find the piece of paper I wrote the weights of both the granular and powdered forms so I could just use the heavier amount to be safe...


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

We tell people to use the granules in canning.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

We are way over-complicating this simply because of the different terms used. Citric acid is citric acid is citric acid regardless of if you call it crystals or powder or river rock. Now we add "granules". And it is all safe for canning if it is food grade but it all measures very differently. Use the coarse "granules" if you wish but it will measure out to be much more than needed and you will taste it.

Citric acid is a salt. As such it has a crystalline form and it will always retain that crystalline form no matter how finely it is ground. But it will measure very differently.

So the issue here is which size of crystals to use - the coarse ground bulk type which is available in bulk in 3 different grinds ranging from the size of rock salt down to coarse ground salt such as one buys for a table top grinder. Or the fine ground which is the consistency of fine table salt or sugar - what I mistakenly perhaps called "powdered".

So Linda Lou are you really saying that the fine grind crystalline citric acid sold for use in canning by both Ball and Mrs. Wages is NOT approved for use? The stuff that when looked at by the naked eye appears to be sugar but which under a microscope would still be a crystal.

If so then I'm sorry but I simply can't accept that and apparently neither does Ball/Bernardin or Mrs. Wages.

Dave


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

Really would not purposefully over-complicate anything... just would like to find the information to continue safe acidification of of food products, without needlessly overdoing the acid where I don't prefer the extra.

Texture.. the stuff I received actually 'looks' like it could be powdered sugar, not a fine-grained salt. I do know it is food grade and useable with canning. I also know that the weights are different, ergo actual acid of 1/4 tsp. of grains is very different than 1/4 tsp. of powder. Just would like to know how much to use of this powdered stuff, when a recipe says "add 1/4 tsp. to each jar" but actually means the granulated form. Too different to just use one in place of another. Must continue looking for the piece of scrap paper (or envelope) that I wrote the weights on. Then I believe I could just add enough of this new stuff by weight to equal that of granules. Thanks


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

No, of course I would not ever say to not use Mrs. Wages or Ball. That is what you do use for canning.... they are canning products. If it is food grade, I don't think it will matter.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

Here is another perfect example of why we should be making canning recipes into weights, preferably metric measurements, rather than volume measurements, for accuracy. If canning recipes were simply written in weights and home canners bought a $25.00 digital kitchen scale as part of their canning equipment, all of the measurement issues using volume measurements, sizes of fruits and vegetables and personal differences in measuring technique would be removed. Instead of wondering if your tomatoes are medium or small or if the cups were measure before or after chopping the veggies, we could simply measure the weight of each ingredient.
What a simple concept.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

tracydr I agree 100%. I much prefer recipes with weights.


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weight

Any chance that the powers that be might give us a weight on the citric acid that they used in developing the recipes?


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

On the subject of weighing (though along with volume measurements) I agree 100% tracydr. I don't know what I would do without my scales. We regularly grow bell peppers here that weigh over 14 oz. and onions over 4 lbs. and I am so not comfortable using recipes calling for a large or small this or that. I'm not sure I would scale up or down near enough. I use a 12+yo Acculab that seems about to crater and am now glad I kept my old triple-beam as a backup, until I have time to check into the electronics again. I am not sure I could make a decent loaf of bread without weighing sourdough, flour and water. LOL

Just in case I never find the piece of paper I wrote the numbers on, would anyone out there with a good gram scale, volunteer to weigh a small measure of granular citric acid and pass on the results? Then I could use that weight for the powdered stuff I have. I would truly appreciate it.


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RE: Citric acid - weight

Melly, you are much more to the point than I. lol


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

We tell people to use the granules in canning.

Linda do you teach a class in this or something? That would be a big benefit to your community if you were. Maybe it's time to bring back the old home ec classes.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

Happyday,
Thank you for asking.
I am Master Food Preservers Program Assistant at my local county extension office. I teach food preservation, food safety, and do the clerical part, as well.
One of the best things are the classes I was fortunate enough to be able teach. It was a series of classes for low income people. They just loved it and have formed a canning club. They have been provided with canners and canning tools to be checked out for personal use, as well.Then, due to some generous people online, I was able to get plenty of lids and rings. One lady gave me enough money to present all of the "graduates" with Ball Blue Books ! What a great opportunity that was !
I love my job !


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

Linda that's great. Much respect for your work! Looks like it had good impact on your community. There is so much food waste, money spent on bad food like candy, chips and soda, and it's so easy to grow a garden.

You have given me an idea, I may contact my extension office and ask if they have classes like that here. I have wanted to take such a class for some time, but didn't know the county might have them. Food preservation is a science, and although I have the books, I would rather see someone else do it than read from a book, in case the book has a printing error or leaves something out. I didn't dare to try to can till after watching some youtube videos.

So you see the classes really help as I'm sure there are other people like me who need more than a book to get started.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

I'm still hoping that someone will report on the weight of the granular form of citric acid. As to the powdered form that I have: 1 tsp. = 3 grams. From the NCHFP "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..." etc. Using the form I have, in their recommended amount, would not be safe. However, since it is still 100% citric acid, I could use it without concern if I could measure by weight.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

I can try later to get you a weight on the Mrs. Wages brand that I have but it isn't coarse granules as I said - more like what I'd call powder as I did above.

Can you tell us where you bought yours or maybe link to it? It is possible that the vendor or manufactor has a conversion measurement.

I'm not convinced that using it wouldn't be safe, it is an issue of the taste not safety.

Dave


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

Spicy World brand (cheapo.. I Amazoned it) 7 oz yielded 12 tbs. Crystalline/granular.


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RE: Citric acid - powder or crystal form

I can't help because mine are from the health food store are are fairly large granules, too.


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