True Lemon – Crystallized Lemon Powder

Not that long ago, I was scanning the seasonings section in the grocery store, looking for some spice perhaps, or a non-alcoholic flavoring (I’ve been glad to see more of these in the stores lately, like my favorite vanilla paste product) when I saw something I hadn’t noticed before which immediately filled my head with possibilities. Some of you may be familiar already with “True Lemon”, but I had never heard of it until then! It’s since become one of my favorite and most frequently-grabbed bottles in my own spice cupboard.

True Lemon Product Image

True Lemon (I keep wanting to write “Tru Lemon” for some reason :P) is a crystallized lemon powder. It sounds very simple but it really packs a wallop. The idea of sprinkling lemon flavored powder on things instantly appealed to me (I like the flavor), but I’ve had less than positive experiences with other lemon products in the past. Even most bottled lemon juice does not taste very good to  me, though I use it by necessity (yes, my lemonade or other baked products would taste better if I individually squeezed and strained a bunch of fresh lemons, but honestly I do not keep that many lemons on hand all the time in my freezer and they tend to go bad fairly quickly when I do buy them, so I don’t buy a lot at once. And frankly, that’s not on the top of my list of activities when preparing a quick recipe. I do buy them if I know I’m going to need zest, but they’re not constantly in my refrigerator). I specifically recall a lemon oil product I tried recently in hopes of using this to replace lemon extract in some sort of baked good (as I hadn’t found a non-alcohol version of lemon extract) and it was pretty bad. Heavy on the oil (it was mixed with another type of oil that I don’t recall, sunflower perhaps) and not much lemon flavor, and what there was seemed to go out of it within weeks leaving barely-lemony slightly rancid smelling oil.  As I understand it, the actual lemon oil itself extracted from the peels isn’t particularly shelf stable, besides being fairly expensive (at any rate, I haven’t found a good source of that either).

The other thing that appealed to me immediately about the idea of the crystallized lemon powder was that it was dry, vs all other liquid lemon products. I envisioned sprinkling it on top of cookies before baking or on top of this type of lemon/poppyseed bread I started making last year and loving (sort of along the flavor lines of lemon poppyseed muffins, but healthier). I haven’t actually done that much baking since buying it, so I still want to try both of these uses, but I quickly discovered its versatility extends far beyond that.

Nutrition Facts

I first of course checked the ingredients in the store, not wanting a repeat of the lemon-infused-oil experience. The True Lemon ingredient list reads:  Citric Acid (no surprises there), Maltodextrin, Lemon Oil, Lemon Juice, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). Contains Soy. Oh yes, and it has zero calories, too :).


The first thing I tried it on was a quick dinner of “fish in papillote” prepared with flash-frozen cod fillets and vegetables. I have made this quite a few times, sometimes placing lemon slices on top of the fish to cook into it. This does successfully impart a lemon flavor, but not necessarily much of one. Also, I’ve found when cooking lemon slices directly on fish and chicken, there is sometimes a slight bitterness imparted from the rind (possibly depending on the type of lemon or its ripeness, some of the rinds seem decidedly more bitter than others). Plus, this depended on having lemons sitting around, which as I previously mentioned, is not the case most of the time at my house. Since the fish is frozen, it’s also not a case where you can substitute lemon juice, because it just runs off (frankly I don’t think I would even pour it right onto un-frozen fish, due to the sogging factor).

As it turned out, the powdered lemon worked excellently in this respect, imparting an excellent lemon flavor to the fish and vegetables that I actually don’t think I could have achieved with real lemons, since the powder is so much more concentrated.

But the place True Lemon has really shone is a surprising one! I have been messing around a lot lately with cooking my own microwave popcorn in an attempt to reduce the amount of calories in the recipe, since I traditionally have made it with a lot of oil (I will post further about this after I get the procedure perfected to my satisfaction). The biggest current drawback of air-popped (or low oil popped) popcorn so far has been that I can’t actually get enough salt to stick to it for my taste. So on a whim one night, I dusted on some True Lemon in addition to the salt. It was amazing! Just a small amount of it (it didn’t have any trouble sticking) seemed to enhance the saltiness of the popcorn without making it into “lemon flavored popcorn”. I have been using it on every batch of popcorn since then along with salt! (I eat a lot of popcorn… it’s my favorite whole grain 😉 ).

Other Ideas

I am quite excited to continue trying this powdered lemon on other dishes as well. It has a very pure taste with no other flavor notes working their way in there. The bottle wrapper includes an equivalency guide to substituting it for lemon juice in recipes (for example 1/2 tsp = 1 Tbsp juice) when I will be very inclined to do since it tastes so much better than any lemon juice I’ve bought.  It also suggests other uses including sprinkling on fruits, vegetables, and salads. I can definitely see how it would enhance the flavor of  a fresh salad from my garden, once spring rolls around :). In terms of its use on fruit, I’ve often used lemon juice in the past on fruit salad because it prevents the cut fruit (especially apples) from turning brown so quickly, and I think this would be a great substitution in that department (pineapple juice is another good option because it’s not as sour).

But I’m even more excited in exploring the other options presented by dry powder versus liquid lemon, rather than just substituting. For instance, I like the snack of a toasted flour tortilla drizzled with a little honey, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (a good dessert to follow up with on taco nights). I’m looking forward to trying a lemon variation of this! And definitely will be trying it on top of some cookies and quick breads as I mentioned earlier. I’m also intrigued by the possibilities of using this along with the fruit called “miracle berry”, which if you eat a small amount of it makes anything eaten shortly thereafter that is sour, taste sweet instead (it’s really amazing…if you haven’t tried it I encourage you to do so… maybe I’ll explore it further in a future post).

Not just lemon!

After checking the True Lemon website, I see that they also have “True Lime”, “True Orange” and have also just come out with “True Grapefruit”, as well as some sweetened lemonade versions. While I haven’t personally had the urge to make anything grapefruit flavored recently, I really want to try “True Orange” :). I didn’t see any of these other flavors at my local Fred Meyer grocery store, but others have reported the True Lime being available at theirs, and the products are also available through the True Lemon website. I also saw there were some multi-packs available on Amazon, if you don’t see it at your local grocery.

True Lemon family portrait (Grapefruit had a prior engagement that day)

There is also a coupon available on the True Lemon website (which can be printed and used at the grocery store) for $1 off any two True products :).

Incidentally, the powder doesn’t seem to have any issues with clumping and turning into an impenetrable rock that you have to chip out of the container (which always seems to happen to things like my garlic powder, or instant coffee), but I’ll be keeping an eye on that. At the rate I’m using it up, I don’t know that it will last long enough to do that anyway, though!

Update (The Bad, alas): I just found out that unlike True Lemon, True Orange also contains Stevia for sweetener. This makes me so sad. I’m campaigning for change on True Lemon’s Facebook Page along with other consumers! Join in if you agree! I’ve tried Stevia but I really dislike the taste, as with most sugar substitutes I’ve had. It’s unpleasant enough to my palette (maybe even worse than aspartame) that I couldn’t even finish some tea I’d sweetened slightly with Stevia (I have a bunch of unopened packets from that recent experiment… oh well! I was hoping this one being more natural might agree with me more but that was not the case).

Updated Update! Good news! (6/27/2016)
True Orange (and other flavors) are now available without Stevia or any other artificial sweetener! The company is moving towards natural sweeteners only, which I applaud (artificial sweeteners mostly taste bad to me). True Orange is still slightly sweetened, but with sugar, and in my opinion it tastes great :). They also have more “drink mix” options which are flavor combinations, so check the ingredients to see what kind of sweetener, if any, is used on a particular product when you purchase. True Lemon, as before, is unsweetened.

Have you ever tried any of the “True” products? I’d love to hear your ideas of other things you use it for or want to try it with. 😀


About qatheworld

I review various and sundry items of life, thereby helping you to seek out positive new experiences and escape the less savory. I also perform a quality review of the other issues encountered in my general life.
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24 Responses to True Lemon – Crystallized Lemon Powder

  1. Bobo says:

    Does this lemon powder dissolve quickly and completely in cold water? I’ve created a caffeinated nasal spray and I’m looking for a lemon flavor to add to my recipe so that it goes along with my green tea caffeine extract that’s in my recipe. I hate that lemon extract has such a high alcohol content. I think if this product dissolves great then it would be a great addition to my concoction. Please let me know.

    • qatheworld says:

      I do routinely mix the true lemon and true lime into cold water for a drink, and I would say it “mostly” dissolves. At any rate, if you sprinkle the powder on the surface and stir, the powder disappears almost immediately and flavors the entire glass, which takes only a very small amount. While there is no residue left in the bottom after I finish, I hesitate to say that it completely dissolves because it’s made of powdered lemon itself, which suggests there are probably minute pieces of lemon still floating in the water that I consume, since lemon itself would not be water-soluble. However, it quickly infuses any liquid and it is a very fine powder that leaves no discernible residue in any consumed food or drink. I think the powder itself would be very strong to put in your nose, but maybe if you infused the spray water with a very small amount of the powder it would work, especially if you ran it through a paper filter to remove any particulate matter so it wouldn’t build up over time into a lemony nose-crust. The concept sounds unique! Why the nose, if I may ask?

      • Bobo says:

        Great! Thanks for the quick reply. I will run it through a paper filter. Great tip. A very small amount is all that Ill be using. The taste in your throat has a green tea flavor and I feel this very small amount of lemon flavor would be perfect. I chose the nose because it is unique and so many people are looking for innovative ways to ingest caffeine. (ie., breath spray, dissolving strips, alcohol drinks, energy shots and caffeinated foods). Through the nose this is a way that the consumer doesn’t have to carry around a large Monster or Red Bull can around the gym or at work. This small bottle has a pump on the top that they can take out of there pocket at any given time to spray enough in their nose to give the boost needed. Also being that its through the nose, The caffeine intake is very small, compared to an energy drink or even a cup of coffee. there’s only 2 mg of caffeine per metered spray. I suggest 2 sprays per nostril. My product should be in stores within 8 weeks. Its great!

  2. sydfoodie says:

    I found out about ‘lemon powder’ when reading through an African cookbook. I thought it was a gyp – it’s not a common product on Australian supermarket shelves. I agree with you on the shelf stabilised ‘fresh lemon juice’ – it’s awful!

  3. Did not know this about the True Orange, thanks for sharing. I have been suing True Lemon for about 2 years now, my whole family loves it and even shipped it to Afghanistan to flavor my husbands water down range. We do like the Pink Grapefruit flavor as well. I usually order directly from True Lemon as they always have a sale. We now like the large shaker bottle and still use the packets for on the go.

  4. Carolyn says:

    True Lemon is a rip off. It’s just citric acid powder. You can’t get this in bulk for 6 times less the price of True Lemon

    • qatheworld says:

      I’ll have to disagree with this. I have purchased citric acid in bulk for cheese making. It’s not the same. If you are just looking for something generically (and extremely) sour and acidic, citric acid is that, but I wouldn’t mix it plain into water to drink :P. The ingredients list for True Lemon is listed in the review. It definitely has a strong lemon taste, unlike citric acid, and is in fact more lemony tasting than most lemon juices I have purchased. True Lime also tastes very clearly like limes. It’s expected that both products would contain citric acid, since all citrus fruits contain this in high concentration and it provides acidity. However, they’re not just citric acid, and not interchangeable with citric acid.

  5. jeet jadhav says:

    in my native place there is lot of lemons farming but on further processing is done on those lemons so pls suggest

  6. ep tor says:

    Can True Lime be used in hot tea? Does it need refrigeration. Most flavored teas in fast food restaurants are pretty bad and they usually don’t have fresh limes – I’d prefer to bring my own. I find lemon in tea is too sweet for me.

    • qatheworld says:

      Yes, both work fine in hot beverages. They are fully dried powders, so they don’t need refrigeration… I just keep them on my spice shelf (in fact, I wouldn’t recommend refrigerating as it might encourage clumping). Good idea to bring it along 🙂

  7. Pam says:

    I am in love with True Lemon and True Lime! My problem is now our Publix, Kroger, Food Lion and Walmarts have stopped getting the unsweetened True Lime. They all get all of the sweetened flavors which I hate!! I want the original unsweetened True Lemon and True Lime! I put it in drinks and cook with it all the time! Real lemons do go bad too often & can add bitterness as stated and it’s nice to be able to just reach in the cabinet for lemon or lime to make a last minute Lemon Caper sauce or other dish! Guess I’ll have to order online now.

  8. Janice says:


    • qatheworld says:

      I’m not familiar with dietary requirements for CKD, but True Lemon doesn’t contain any salt. However, some people find the sour taste satisfying in a similar way (probably why I like it on popcorn :)… I actually am required to eat an extremely high amount of salt for my health problems though, so I don’t make any attempt to restrict salt and I have to take extra supplemental salt). If you have any concerns though, you could review the ingredients list in the post with your doctor.

  9. jocelyn says:

    Can this be used when baking cakes (to replace lemon zest)

  10. Kate says:

    O’d be curious to know if any of the True Lemon produvts could. E used to substitute for zest and if so,how?

    • qatheworld says:

      Yes, I regularly use True Lemon to substitute for lemon zest, as I rarely have lemon zest on hand. I substitute the same amount. It does not look the same in the recipe as lemon zest usually has visible peel pieces in the finished product, but it tastes great, and like zest it does not add any extra liquid.

  11. Nancy says:

    O have been using True Lemon and True Lime for 5+ yrs. I absolutely love citrus flavors on chicken and turkey along with other spices, (garlic, onion, paprika, etc). Of course I’ve used it on fish!! Have youvtried a bit of lemon on your salad?? Scrumptious!!

  12. Marcy Currier says:

    Stevia is a not an artificial sugar or sugar substitute. It is a plant.

  13. Cynthy says:

    Thank you for your post. I’ve never tried True Lemon. I would like to find a way to intensify the tartness and flavor of my lemon bars — do you think I could mix powdered confectioners sugar with True Lemon and sprinkle it over the top of the lemon bars?

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