Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, and Iced Tea
I Have A Couple Of Bags Of Weird Food Supply That I Take Advantage Of Sometimes
In a private forum I run, a friend of mine brought up a question about iced creams and where to source Mysterious Food Science Powders.
The only place I’ve ever been able to find them is Amazon, and the only ones I have are Sodium Citrate and Citric Acid. But those powders, they do good work, and I have them both because I watch too much Food YouTube.
The Sodium Citrate was because of this:
And it totally works! It’s great. I wonder if it’s a good emulsifier in other contexts? Maybe I should be adding a pinch of it to vinaigrettes? I don’t know.
There’s only one other thing I know sodium citrate is good for, and I hope it doesn’t help me in the kitchen any time soon:
If you’ve found another use for sodium citrate outside of cheese sauces and fattening up local vampires, tweet them at me pls. Enquiring minds need to know.
The Citric Acid came out of a desire to make exactly one recipe, the Morgenthaler Lime Cordial, borne out of… well, the bartending YouTube channel I follow.
But, recently, I’ve found Another Use for Powdered Citric Acid, outside of that Exactly One Lime Cordial Recipe.
I’ve been polishing my Canadian-Style Iced Tea Recipe for a long time.
When I say “Canadian-Style Iced Tea”, I mean - uh, a substance that tastes a lot like this stuff:
Canadians do not understand southern style “iced tea”.
What, it’s just tea but cold?
No, Iced Tea is supposed to be sweet and tart and a little bitter, essentially an Arnold Palmer. (In fact, the iced tea drinks we’re familiar with up here are, in fact, Arnold Palmers, there’s a direct and unbroken line between a golfer pouring lemonade into his unsweetened tea in the 60’s and the Arizona/Brisk/Nestea of today).
But… well, commercial Iced Tea is too sweet, and not bitter or tart enough. That’s why I make my own! Out of real tea, and real lemons, and by and large it comes out … sometimes bad, sometimes good, sometimes amazing.
Because what I’m making is actually an Arnold Palmer, my process is to, essentially, make lemonade with cold tea, using a process that now involves this charming “State Fair Lemonade” recipe from Food Wishes:
One of the things that finally got me on to the track of making it come out pretty well, most of the time, though, was the tasting spoon.
A lot of my earlier cooking experiments involved “doing the entire cooking process and then tasting the food at the end to see how I did”. As I get older, I’m starting, gradually, to learn to actually taste the food now and again, and, having done that, attempt to balance the flavors somewhat.
And so, the current iced tea recipe is a careful balance between bitter (provided by the tea, brewed a little aggressively to bring out some bitter notes), sweet (provided by oleo saccharum and simple syrup), and tart (provided by lemon juice).
And that’s where the citric acid comes in. It’s great at that final step of balancing tartness after I’ve added lemon.
Technically, I could just keep squeezing more and more lemons, but… lemons are expensive, and I have this whole bag of acid right here >_>. That Good Host iced tea up there is definitely using citric acid to power its mock-citrusy punch (as does Kool-Aid, a packet of citric acid, food dye and artificial flavors) and, in fact, by using a bit of citric acid I’ve kinda hit closer to the flavor I’m actually craving: fake, sugary, tart, processed, canned Iced Tea… but better.
I ended up using two teaspoons in my 2L jug, and this is possibly my best iced tea yet.
So, mission accomplished: my fridge has a couple of liters of homemade ice tea in it.
I think I’m going to name this batch “Lil-Nestea-X”.