Is Your Meal Too Sweet? Citrus Is A Quick And Easy Cure

Citrus fruit on wooden table
Citrus fruit on wooden table - Anvr/Getty Images

It's a culinary misadventure we've all been through: You start whipping up that new teriyaki tofu recipe you've been dying to try, only to realize that your teriyaki sauce tastes more like butterscotch than umami. While you might think your meal is ruined, there's actually a simple, citrusy remedy that may be hiding in your kitchen.

Adding a hint of lemon or lime juice to your dish can help to counteract some of the unwanted sweetness with sourness. This kitchen trick is well-known in the food industry, and that same concept explains why lime juice helps make margaritas refreshingly tart and not too sweet. If you find yourself in a sweetness predicament and have a lemon or lime close at hand, squeeze the juice from the fruit into a separate bowl and add small quantities to your food. Test it each time until you're satisfied. For instance, you could start with 1 teaspoon to make sure your dish doesn't end up tasting too lemony or sour. (If using lemon or lime zest, the corresponding amount would be about ⅙ teaspoon.)

This tip can come in handy to save a variety of foods, including stews, smoothies, and even some desserts. If you have cookie dough that's too sweet, adding lemon juice or zest will help to counteract it. While it can be hard to know exactly how much citrus to add to your dish, tasting your food as you cook (if possible) will help ensure you arrive at your ideal flavor balance.

Read more: 16 Little-Known Facts About Salt

Citrus Isn't The Only Fix For An Excessively Sweet Dish

Colorful spices in ceramic bowls
Colorful spices in ceramic bowls - Sgaphoto/Getty Images

Sour citrus fruits can also be used to improve overly sweet barbecue sauces. For 1 cup of sauce, adding just 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice sauce at a time may help balance the flavor profile.

If you happen to find yourself without anything citrusy, other common acidic or sour ingredients will also do the trick. Adding a splash of apple cider vinegar is one possibility. As with lemon juice, starting small is recommended. You can mix in about 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar of sauce and taste as you go.

If you're worried about how adding lemon or vinegar will affect the final flavor of your dish, adding bitter veggies like kale or arugula may be a good option. This is because, like acidic flavors, bitterness can be used to balance out sweetness. This tip works particularly well when cooking something like a stew or chili. In dishes like aromatic curries, ingredients such as pepper, dried chilies, or even hot sauce can help you avoid excessive sweetness.

Read the original article on Mashed.