Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are often used as natural remedies, kitchen staples, and even cleaning agents. But how do they stack up against each other? Let’s take a closer look!
Comparing lemon juice vs apple cider vinegar
Lemon juice is derived by squeezing the juice out of fresh lemons (none of that artificial stuff!). It has a tart, citrusy flavor.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made from fermented apple cider. It undergoes a fermentation process that turns the sugars in the cider into acetic acid, which gives it a tangy flavor.
|Lemon juice||Apple cider vinegar|
|Acidity (pH level)||2 – 3||2 – 3|
|Color||Pale yellow||Amber and cloudy|
|Taste||Strong and sour||Strong, tangy, slightly sweet|
|Best cooking uses||Salad dressings, pasta sauces, seafood, and lemon baked goods/desserts||Salad dressings, sauces, marinades, and baking|
|Nutritional value||Contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and antioxidants||Contains vitamins, minerals, and probiotics|
Differences between lemon juice and apple cider vinegar
The biggest difference between lemon juice and apple cider vinegar is their acidity and flavor profile. Lemon juice is citrusy and sour due to its natural acidity, while apple cider vinegar has a milder acidity with a slightly fruity and fermented taste.
Color, taste, and smell
Lemon juice is light yellow, vibrant and refreshing, just like biting into a fresh lemon! In contrast, apple cider vinegar has a more subdued, amber hue, resembling—you guessed it—apple cider.
When it comes to taste, lemon juice offers a zesty, citrusy punch. It’s sour with a hint of sweetness, making it a fantastic addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, leans toward the tangy side. It has a strong, sour, acidic taste with a subtle apple undertone.
And don’t get me started on the aromas! Is there anything better than the fresh smell of squeezed lemon juice? Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is much more pungent and intense.
Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar have a pH that falls in the range of 2-3, which is pretty acidic. However, lemon juice is usually closer to 2, making it slightly more acidic than apple cider vinegar.
Lemon juice doesn’t naturally undergo fermentation. On the other hand, apple cider goes through a special process to become apple cider vinegar. First, they add yeast to apple cider, which turns the sugars in it into alcohol. Then, another type of bacteria changes that alcohol into acetic acid, giving apple cider vinegar its unique taste. So, lemon juice is just lemon juice, but apple cider becomes apple cider vinegar through a special fermentation process.
Cooking and baking with lemon juice vs apple cider vinegar
I always keep lemons in my kitchen. A dash of lemon juice can brighten up a salad or add a citrusy zing to everything from lemon bars to lemon chicken. The zesty, refreshing flavor of lemon juice can cut through rich or fatty dishes (like pasta or seafood), balancing out the flavors.
Apple cider vinegar’s mild acidity and subtle fruity undertones work well for pickling vegetables, adding tang to barbecue sauces, and enhancing the flavor of slow-cooked dishes like braised meats and stews.
Some people incorporate apple cider vinegar into their daily routine by mixing it with water or other beverages for potential health benefits (more on this later!).
Are lemon juice and apple cider vinegar interchangeable?
There are times when you can swap one for the other. However, this may alter the taste and acidity of your dish.
For instance, both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar can be used interchangeably in salad dressings. With lemon juice, you’ll get a brighter, citrusy profile. Apple cider vinegar provides a tangier, punchy flavor. Go with your preference or what you have on hand.
In most pickling recipes, you can substitute lemon juice for apple cider vinegar and vice versa, but the final result will be different.
That said, when it comes to baking, they are not so interchangeable due to their distinct flavors. For example, using apple cider vinegar in a lemon-based dessert may introduce an unexpected tartness (I don’t recommend this). Stick to the ingredients specified in your recipe for the best results.
Nutrition: Lemon juice vs apple cider vinegar
Lemon juice is bursting with vitamin C and other antioxidants that boost your immune system. Plus, it contains electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, so it’s great for hydration. I love adding fresh lemon juice to warm water to promote both hydration and digestion.
However, lemon juice lacks the fermentation process and the accompanying probiotics that ACV offers.
Apple cider vinegar also contains trace nutrients and acetic acid, which has been linked to potential health benefits, such as aiding in weight management and blood sugar control and supporting healthy digestion.
How to store lemon juice vs apple cider vinegar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is best when used immediately. However, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep in mind that it may lose some of its freshness over time.
To preserve lemon juice for a more extended period, you can freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to a zip-lock bag.
ACV has a longer shelf life and can last indefinitely when stored properly. Keep it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat. There’s no need to refrigerate apple cider vinegar, as its acidity acts as a natural preservative.
How to get the best lemon juice and apple cider vinegar for the job
My general view is that the best ingredients are homemade, and if you have lots of time to wait for fermentation, you can make amazing homemade apple cider vinegar. (Lemon juice is, of course, much easier to make at home – just squeeze a lemon! Seriously, that’s it.)
But if you lack the time – or just don’t like discovering all the cuts on your hands when the juiced lemon inevitably gets on them – storebought will do just fine. Here’s what you should look for:
- Organic. (Obviously.)
- Ideally single-ingredient with no additives or preservatives.
- For the lemon juice – make sure it’s not from concentrate.
- For the apple cider vinegar – you want unpasteurized, with the “mother.”
Got all that?
Lemon juice vs apple cider vinegar: Which is better?
Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar have amazing benefits, so it’s hard to pick one.
However, I prefer lemon juice over apple cider vinegar for its greater versatility and flavor profile. I love the bright, zesty, citrusy notes it provides. Plus, lemon juice is also a great source of vitamin C and offers potential digestive benefits.
Apple cider vinegar still has its benefits, but its aroma and flavor are not as versatile as lemon juice, especially for baking.
Both apple cider vinegar and lemon water can have potential health benefits, but the choice between them depends on personal preferences and health goals. Apple cider vinegar may aid in digestion and blood sugar regulation, while lemon water provides vitamin C and may support hydration.
Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice have some similar health benefits, such as aiding digestion and providing a source of acidity, but they are not the same, as they have distinct flavors and nutrient profiles.
Both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice may have potential benefits for blood sugar regulation, but more research is needed to determine which is better, and individual responses can vary. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on managing blood sugar.
Both apple cider vinegar and lemon can contribute to weight loss as part of a healthy lifestyle, as they may help control appetite and support digestion, but they are not miracle solutions on their own.