The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

the "Lemon Juice Secret" ?

dstroy's picture

the "Lemon Juice Secret" ?

So, I've been meaning to ask about this - ever since we've moved up here and Floyd's been bringing home this new flour to bake with, on the back of the package there's a "tip" about using lemon juice in your yeast breads. 

"To give your yeast breads superior lightness and volume simply add your own natural dough improver ... natural lemon juice ... to your favourite yeast bread recipe  1 tbsp for every 4-5 cups flour."

I was thinking at first this was like the pineapple starter I've seen you guys talk about here a lot - but am realizing the packaging is just talking about all yeast breads.

But I don't recall seeing a lot of posts about folks using lemon juice in their breads at home - so I'm wondering about your thoughts on this, and have you tried it?

Donkey_hot's picture

No secret, adding ascorbic acid has been a common practice for a long time...

dstroy's picture

professional bakers I have heard this is true, but I guess I have been wondering about why I don't often see it posted about here when folks are talking about the baking they do at home.

SourdoLady's picture

When I got my first bread machine about 18 years ago, the recipe book had that tip. I have done it a lot over the years. It would be interesting to do a side-by-side test and make two identical loaves but add the lemon juice to only one of them.

dstroy's picture

If you do, I hope you report back your findings :)

mwilson's picture

I can recall a few posts about it. I previously shouted about the use of lemon juice in a blog post here. It's effects are quite magical. Although now I have realised using sourdough as an improver is a far superior option...


Edthebread's picture

My take on the advantage of lemon juice is that it provides both vitamin C and some acidity, which the yeast likes in moderation.  To max out the vitamin C I tried substituing 1 tablespoon of kiwi fruit juice in place of lemon juice in the days when I baked by bread machine.  My research indicated kiwi has much more vitamin C than lemon.  The results were a disaster - the bread fell horribly.  I can't say I got to the bottom of it, but if I recall it was something to with proteases present in the kiwi.  I definintiely felt the bread had a better texture with 1tbsp lemon juice per 2lb loaf.  I used to sqeeze several lemons then freeze in 1tbsp blocks in an ice cube tray.

cherryadia's picture


Kiwi fruits have strong enzymes that break down protein like mad. It has been used as a natural meat tenderizer for ages! One kiwi fruit can literally digest a huge chunk of steak meat... (I kid you not when I say "digest.") The structure of a loaf of bread depends on gluten, which is a protein composite, and kiwi fruit's enzymes must have digested all the gluten in your bread.

I hope this explains what happened!



Edthebread's picture

Thanks Adia, I guess I found that out the hard way!  But I'll remember it next time I have tough piece of meat to marinade.  Do you know if the proteases are thermally stable, i.e. would they survive a freeze/thaw?

Wild-Yeast's picture

Ascorbic Acid [Vitamin C and not citric acid as I stated earlier] is one solution for breaking down ChlorAmine in the water supply.  One 3 ounce lemon has approximately 42 mg of Viatamin C [without the skin] that should neutralize approximately 14-21 litres  of chloramine treated water. 

Vitamin C is also used as a regular ingredient in commercial sourdoughs - it has beneficial effects on yeast [improved rise] and gives the sourdough a sour tang that would require too much time to produce naturally. The amount for home bread making is very small, on the order of a 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per loaf. King Arthur sells "sour salt" which is ascorbic acid to acidify breads to give them an increased sourdough tang.

I posted a 2009 experiment with Meyer Lemon juice in sourdough here. Debra Wink helped out a lot...,


CountryBoy's picture

It is my understanding based on the research I have done that Ascorbic Acid is different from lemon juice and citric acid.