Does Lemongrass Taste Like Lemon? Lemongrass and lemon itself is actually thought to be very similar both in the way it tastes and the way it smells, due to, you know, the name. However, it’s important to get to the facts to know if they really are similar, just in case you’re planning to use one in place of the other.
To achieve this, we’re going to break down the two of them with a more scientific approach.
What’s in lemon?
I’m not going to bore you with the origin and location of lemons right now, I’m just going to tell you how it tastes. Lemon has a strong, tangy and acidic flavor that makes that of an orange look adorable. This is why it’s typically not eaten on its own but as a way to enhance the flavor of other dishes.
Why do lemons have this taste? Well, the taste is attributed to their pH which is actually low, very low, and once anything has a low pH, it’s regarded as acidic. But this isn’t the only reason, after all, sulphuric acid has a low pH and let’s just say it doesn’t taste like lemons.
There’s something else. Lemons contain an organic compound known as citric acid. Citric acid is present in citrus fruits like oranges. Fortunately, even though citric acid tastes strong, it in itself is a weak acid so it’s not going to dissolve your tongue or anything.
So when you bite a lemon, the acid in it will activate that area of your tongue that detects sour taste, which will in turn send signals to your brain letting it know there’s something sour in your mouth.
Now what about lemongrass?
For starters, lemongrass is not related to lemon. However, they do have certain concentrations of citric acids but in much different levels. Lemongrass has a much smaller amount of citric acid and rather tilts more to citral than citric acid.
This means it has a subtle lemony flavor and taste to it, which of course is nothing compared to actual lemon.
So does lemongrass taste like lemon?
Well, since lemons have citric acid and lemongrass also has a little bit of citric acid as well, it’s no surprise that it’ll taste a little bit like lemons or at least have a lemony taste to it.
“They don’t taste that similar. If the recipe asks for lemon zest, or lemon essence, you might be able to get away with it, but it won’t taste the same. It might still be good.
But if a recipe asks for lemon juice, it wants the liquid and the acid, and lemon grass has neither.”
–From the subreddit r/cooking
Why lemon grass smells like lemon?
We’re going to break this down into two. Does lemongrass actually even smell like lemons? If yes, why?
You get a whiff of that lemony smell and you have one chemical to thank for that, Citral. Citral is a chemical that’s found in lemons, lemongrass, lemon verbena, and lemon myrtle.
Since both lemons and lemongrass have citral, though in different concentrations, they’ll obviously smell similar but in different strengths.
This is because, while lemongrass extract contains 65 to 85% citral, lemon extracts contain only 2 to 5% citral. In other words, lemongrass has a stronger aroma than lemons.
“The ones I used before have more aroma than taste. I won’t say they give the same taste tbh.. Personally, I won’t use lemongrass instead of lemons.
Lemongrass are quite possibly my favorite fragrance, enjoy it.”
From the subreddit r/cooking
Is lemongrass same as lemon balm
Again, I’ll answer this in two parts.
- Are they the same
- Can they be used interchangeably for cooking?
Lemongrass and lemon balm are not the same at all, they’re two different plants entirely. While lemon balm belongs to the mint family (lamiaceae), lemongrass belongs to the grass family (gramineae). They have quite similar scents but are different from each other.
Whether one can be used in place of the other in preparing dishes depends on the dish in question. However, for the most part, they can’t be used interchangeably for cooking. One of the few dishes where one can be used in place of the other is in tea. All you need to know is that one lemongrass stalk equals four lemongrass leaves.