Can you buy real lemon juice?

Lemon juice is a versatile ingredient used in many recipes from savory dishes to desserts and drinks. With the popularity of lemon juice, an important question arises – can you buy real, 100% lemon juice at the store? Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes real lemon juice and where you can find it.

What is Real Lemon Juice?

Real lemon juice is juice that comes directly from fresh lemons. When lemons are squeezed, the juice inside is extracted. This fresh squeezed juice is considered real, authentic lemon juice. There are a few key characteristics of real lemon juice:

  • It comes straight from fresh lemons – no concentrates, additives, or preservatives
  • It has a tart, acidic, and strong lemon flavor
  • It has natural cloudiness and pulp from the lemon flesh
  • It is not from concentrate
  • It has no added sugars, water, or artificial flavors

So in summary, real lemon juice is 100% juice squeezed straight from lemons. There are no additives, sugars, or additional ingredients. It is all-natural juice with a bold, fresh lemon taste.

Can You Buy Real Lemon Juice at the Grocery Store?

Yes, you can absolutely purchase real, 100% lemon juice at most grocery stores. However, you have to read labels carefully and know what to look for. Here are some tips for finding the real stuff:

  • Check the ingredients – It should contain one ingredient: lemon juice or lemon juice concentrate. No sugars, water, preservatives added.
  • Avoid anything labeled “lemon juice blend” or “lemon juice cocktail” – these contain added ingredients.
  • Look for “not from concentrate” on the label – This indicates no water has been added.
  • Shop the refrigerator section – Real lemon juice is often sold chilled in the produce or juice sections.
  • Buy brands labeled “100% lemon juice” – This signals no dilutions or additives.
  • Examine color and cloudiness – Real juice will be cloudy and muted yellow, not clear or neon yellow.
  • Give it a smell – Real lemon juice has a tart, acidic, and potent aroma.

Some grocery stores even have fresh lemon juice machines that will squeeze lemons while you watch! This guarantees you are getting 100% real juice. Overall, just read labels closely and look for simplicity of ingredients.

What Brands Sell Real Lemon Juice?

There are a number of juice brands that produce and sell real, 100% lemon juice without any additions:

  • Santa Cruz Organic – This brand has a 100% lemon juice made from organic lemons. It’s chilled and contains one simple ingredient.
  • Natalie’s Orchid Island – They offer a 100% Florida lemon juice that is not from concentrate.
  • Lakewood Organic – Lakewood has a certified organic lemon juice with no preservatives or additives.
  • Wyman’s – They sell “straight from the lemon” juice containing nothing but lemons.
  • Minute Maid – Their premium lemon juice comes from concentrate but has no other ingredients.
  • ReaLemon – ReaLemon has a 100% lemon juice made from concentrate.

Checking both the refrigerated section and juice aisle of stores will reveal a variety of brands making the real stuff. Grocery stores, health food stores, and online retailers all carry 100% lemon juice options.

What About Bottled Lemon Juice?

There are many bottled lemon juice options on shelves, often near the bottled lime juices. Unfortunately, most of these bottled juices are not 100% lemon juice. They typically contain added water, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. So check those labels!

Here are some signs a bottled lemon juice is not the real deal:

  • Contains added sugars or high fructose corn syrup
  • Lists “natural flavors” as an ingredient
  • Uses vague terms like “lemon juice blend” or “lemon juice drink”
  • Has additional ingredients like citric acid, malic acid, sodium benzoate, etc.
  • Is clear and lacks the cloudiness of fresh lemon juice

There are some exceptions – a few brands do offer 100% lemon juice in bottles. But they are less common. Again, scrutinizing the label is key. When in doubt, go for the refrigerated, fresh juices.

Can You Make Your Own?

One surefire way to get true, homemade lemon juice is to simply juice the lemons yourself! All you need is fresh lemons, a juicer or reamer, and a few minutes.

Here is a quick guide to making your own real lemon juice at home:

  1. Choose fresh, bright yellow lemons that feel heavy – Avoid dried out or light lemons
  2. Wash and dry the lemons thoroughly
  3. Slice the lemons in half crosswise and juice them using either a manual reamer or electric citrus juicer
  4. For maximum juice, first juice the lemon halves normally, then flip over and juice backside
  5. Add strained juice to a glass bottle or jar
  6. If not using right away, store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

Making your own allows control over the ingredients and guarantees 100% real, natural juice. However, it does require effort and a juicer. So for convenience, buying real bottled juice can be a quicker solution.

Real Lemon Juice vs Juice from Concentrate

Some lemon juice at stores is marked “not from concentrate”. What does this mean compared to juice from concentrate? Here’s the key difference:

Juice Not From Concentrate:

  • Juiced straight from fresh lemons
  • Not diluted with added water
  • Cloudy, pulpy texture
  • Refrigerated and perishable
  • More intense lemon flavor

Juice From Concentrate:

  • Made from concentrated lemon juice later reconstituted with water
  • Clear, filtered, smooth texture
  • Shelf-stable at room temperature
  • Milder lemon taste

While both can be 100% lemon juice, “not from concentrate” is closer to fresh since it skips the concentration process. But juice from concentrate still contains no additives and can be a good real lemon juice option.

Uses for Real Lemon Juice

Real lemon juice adds vibrant flavor and acidity to both sweet and savory recipes. Here are some of the top uses for 100% lemon juice:

  • Vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces – Adds brightness to salad dressings, chicken marinades, fish sauces, and more.
  • Beverages – Mix with water, sparkling water, iced tea, or cocktails for a zesty lemon kick.
  • Desserts – Use in lemon tarts, cookies, cakes, curds, frozen treats, and candies.
  • Seasoning and garnish – Sprinkle on fish, chicken, rice, pasta, and vegetables.
  • Pickling and preserving – The acidity helps when quick-pickling veggies or jam-making.
  • Cleaning and household – A natural cleaning booster and stain-remover.

Real lemon juice provides the bright, vibrant flavor that makes recipes like lemon bars really sing. Always taste test as you cook to adjust lemon amounts to your liking.

Storage and Shelf Life

To maintain freshness and flavor, proper storage of real lemon juice is important. Here are some tips:

  • Store opened lemon juice in the refrigerator. The cold helps preserve the vitamins.
  • Keep lemon juice in an airtight container or bottle. Exposure to air oxidizes the juice.
  • Use within 3-5 days for peak flavor and freshness.
  • To extend shelf life, freeze leftover juice in ice cube trays or muffin tins.
  • Frozen 100% lemon juice keeps for 6-8 months.
  • Properly stored, refrigerated juice lasts 3-4 weeks.

And avoid storing lemon juice at room temperature if possible – the heat degrades the flavor. Refrigeration preserves the juice and helps it maintain the qualities of fresh lemons.

Health Benefits

100% lemon juice provides a range of potential health benefits. Here are some of the top nutrients and health-promoting compounds in real lemon juice:

  • Vitamin C – One cup contains over 30 mg vitamin C, supporting immunity and antioxidant status.
  • Potassium – With over 100 mg potassium per cup, it helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Antioxidants – Compounds like lutein, zeaxanthin, and flavonoids act as free radical scavengers.
  • Vitamin A and B-vitamins – Small amounts provide immune and energy metabolism support.
  • Fiber – Contains some fiber, especially when pulp is included. This aids digestion.
  • Plant compounds – Contains beneficial plant chemicals that may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects.

Be sure to consume lemon juice in moderation. Large amounts can erode tooth enamel over time. But when used in balance, the nutrients in real juice deliver some nice benefits.

Risks and Precautions

Real lemon juice is generally quite safe. However, there are a few potential risks and precautions to be aware of:

  • Can damage tooth enamel with regular, excess use – Drink through a straw to minimize contact with teeth.
  • May trigger migraines in some people prone to them.
  • Has oxalates that can contribute to kidney stone development for those susceptible.
  • Citric acid may irritate sores or canker sores in the mouth.
  • Topical application can cause skin irritation and phytophotodermatitis (skin rash triggered by sun after contact with certain plants).

Overall, lemon juice is considered very safe when used in moderation, not over-consumed, and stored properly. Those with gastrointestinal issues or chronic health conditions should check with a doctor before regularly consuming.

Is Real Lemon Juice Better Than Artificial or Bottled?

Freshly squeezed 100% lemon juice has a clear edge over artificial and bottled options:

  • Real juice contains protective phytochemicals absent in artificial juice
  • No artificial flavors, sugars, or preservatives
  • Higher vitamin C levels compared to bottled
  • More pronounced lemon flavor and aroma
  • Not diluted – more concentrated lemon taste

Of course, artificial lemon juice is the most inferior, containing no actual lemon content. But even when comparing real juice to commercial bottled lemon juice, the fresh version has advantages thanks to more intense flavor and higher nutrient levels.

Price and Cost Comparison

When comparing the cost of real lemon juice to bottled and artificial, here is the typical pricing:

  • Real lemon juice – Approximately $2 to $5 per 12 oz bottle
  • Bottled lemon juice – Around $1.50 to $3 per 12 oz
  • Artificial lemon juice – Roughly $1 to $2 per 12 oz

The highest quality real juice costs a bit more than commercial options, but still remains affordable. Especially when you factor in the flavor and nutrition benefits, real juice delivers value at its moderately higher price point. Making your own costs even less!

Is Real Lemon Juice Worth It?

Given its uses, health benefits, and bright lemon flavor, real lemon juice is absolutely worth buying. The taste is far superior to artificial juice, providing true acidic zing. And it packs more vitamin C and antioxidants than diluted, bottled juices.

Here’s a quick rundown of why 100% real lemon juice is worth seeking out and using:

  • Made from just one whole food ingredient – lemons!
  • No added sugars, preservatives, flavors, or colors
  • Higher nutritional value than bottled or artificial
  • Bolder, more intense lemon flavor
  • More versatile in recipes – works beautifully in both sweet and savory dishes
  • Can be used to naturally clean, enhance water, and pickle
  • Affordable for the quality compared to commercial brands

When shopping, be sure to examine labels closely and look for the 100% real juice indicators. But the extra effort provides lemon essence that can’t be beat. Real juice shines!


Real lemon juice is absolutely available for purchase – you just need to know what to look for on labels. Opt for brands that say “100% lemon juice” or “not from concentrate”. Checking the chilled section is a safe bet for finding the real deal. And juicing lemons yourself results in the freshest, homemade version.

While costing slightly more than artificial or bottled varieties, real juice is worth it for the all-natural lemon punch. Use 100% lemon juice to bring delicious acidity and vitamin C to marinades, dressings, baked goods, beverages, and more. When life gives you lemons, now you know how to get the very best juice out of them!

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