Label Decoder: Citric Acid

You’ll find citric acid in a variety of sweet foods like jams, gelatin desserts, candy, and ice cream. Luckily, it’s safe. Here’s some info on how it’s made and where it’s found.
Related To:

You’ll this food additive in a variety of sweet foods -- jams, gelatin desserts, candy and ice cream, to name a few. Luckily, it’s safe. Here’s some info on how it’s made and why it's used.

What Is It?

Citric acid (a.k.a. sodium citrate) comes from the juice of citrus fruits and berries. It’s created by fermenting cane sugar or molasses with the fungus Aspergillus niger. Cooks and food manufacturers use it as a flavor enhancer, antioxidant and to increase the acidity of food, especially when canning. You'll typically find it in ice cream, sherbet, carbonated beverages, candy and reconstituted instant potatoes -- it shows up on a lot of packaged food labels because it's versatile and cheap.

Is It Safe?

Citric acid was first isolated from lemon juice by a Swedish chemist in the late 1700s, so we've been eating it for a while. Experts consider it safe and we have long relied on it to add acidity, which helps preserve food. Some folks may be intolerant to citric acid; if that's you, reading labels is essential since it’s found naturally in many fruits, veggies and added to so many packaged foods.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Label Decoder: Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum's not hard to find when you're checking labels. Candy, puddings, ice cream, even cottage cheese -- it's all over grocery store shelves. Although it’s not the easiest word to pronounce, xanthan gum is one additive that you can chew on without worry.

Label Decoder: High Maltose Corn Syrup

You've probably seen high maltose corn syrup listed on food labels before, even if you don't quite remember where. Did you know high maltose corn syrup is a close cousin to the infamous high fructose corn syrup ? Numerous questions are probably swirling in your head right now. Luckily, we'll tell you all about it. Read on to get the scoop (literally; it's found in ice cream).

One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

There’s been quite a buzz over this frozen treat, so we tried our hand at the one-ingredient wonder – homemade banana “ice cream.”

Taste Test: Dairy-Free Ice Cream

These are our picks for the best dairy-free ice cream America’s churning out today

The Veggie Table: Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Make homemade ice cream dairy free by substituting coconut milk for milk or cream.

Order This, Not That: Ice Cream

Don’t deny yourself this warm-weather treat on occasion. Here’s how you can scream for ice cream, without having your waistline scream back.

What's Your Favorite Ice Cream?

Food Network Magazine is on a quest to find out how America eats ice cream.

How to Pick a Healthy Frozen Treat

"Diet" offerings may fool folks into thinking they're better than regular ice cream. If you're looking for a healthier frozen treat, here are some tips.

Small Steps: 5 Ways To Get More Calcium

We’ve told you how to drink more water, fit in more exercise and eat more fruit—this week it’s all about calcium. If you don’t get enough of this mineral, here are 5 ways to help.

But I Just Want Some Ice Cream!?!

It is okay to indulge in ice cream every once in a while -- just keep these healthy tips in mind.