What can I do with granular citric acid?
May 8, 2018 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I want to descale my OXO Barista Brain Coffee Maker, and I understand that OXO brand descaler is essentially citric acid. It's also very pricey. The buy-in-bulk price points for granular citric acid seem too good to pass up. If I buy a 5lb or 10lb bag of granular citric acid to make descaler on the cheap, what else can I do with it?
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sour candy is one way to use it: hard, gummy, powedered, etc
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:01 AM on May 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Also descale other things: shower heads, faucets, spigots, etc.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:02 AM on May 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can use it to reliably lower the pH of tomatoes and other borderline-acidic foods for home canning. (Example: tomato sauce.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:04 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can make a solution with water and use it to keep cut fruit from browning.

You can turn it into sodium citrate (very easy, don't be intimidated by the chemistry) and use it to make quality cheese melt smoothly for things like mac and cheese.
posted by exogenous at 7:05 AM on May 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have most of a 5 lb. bag of citric acid left over from making bath bombs. Maybe I'll descale some stuff.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 7:17 AM on May 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I put a few of pinches (maybe 1/8 - 1/4 tsp) of citric acid into milk for a buttermilk substitute (add pinches & mix until the milk thickens visibly) for making southern biscuits.

You can also make a variety of fresh cheeses with citric acid. Paneer is easy and tasty.
posted by gregr at 7:22 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: Citric acid is a nice cleaner / degreaser...
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:37 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: A light sprinkle on watermelon slices is delicious!
posted by spindrifter at 7:46 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

This isn't quite your question, but another option for a descaler is vinnegar which is pretty cheap in the 4liter / 1 gallon size bottles.
posted by nobeagle at 7:50 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: I use it to make dishwasher detergent (with borax, washing soda, and salt).
posted by mustardayonnaise at 7:54 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: You can clean the heck out of a dirty toilet with it - just sprinkle some down, let it sit for a couple of hours and then scrub. Works better than any other option I've tried for a toilet that's hit the "normal cleaning product + scrubbing is not doing anything" stage of filth.
posted by terretu at 7:56 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another option is to just buy much less of it. It's offered in smaller sizes on Amazon, or I buy about half a pound at a time at a local market that caters to Pakistani people. It's used in many Middle Eastern dishes.... It costs me around $2.
posted by answergrape at 8:29 AM on May 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Coming in to second "canning tomatoes". That much will last you a long time, though, so also seconding "get a smaller quantity" (I am only halfway through the ONE POUND bag of citric acid I got FIVE YEARS ago, despite canning a bushels' worth of tomatoes every year).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: +1 to spindrifter's suggestion to sprinkle a little bit on watermelon - it's amazing! It makes it taste like watermelon candy, but with real watermelon flavor instead of fake watermelon flavoring.

You can also use it to clean your dishwasher instead of vinegar.
posted by zsazsa at 8:47 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: Make fizzy bath bombs! Recipes on Pinterest, online or get s book from the library.
posted by LaBellaStella at 9:25 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, I have some citric acid (I add a teeny bit to my homemade dog food). How do I use it to descale my coffemaker?
posted by sarajane at 9:27 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: I've used it to rip scale off plumbing fixtures, in addition to descaling my espresso machine.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:19 AM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: Along with rennet as another weird ingredient, you can use it to make mozzarella cheese.
posted by rabidsegue at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It is used in natural fabric dyeing. Maybe try bundle dyeing silk.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:37 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I sprinkle a bit into pesto and guacamole to keep them green and add a bit of tang.
posted by dizziest at 10:48 AM on May 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I quite like sour, so most drink mixes are too sweet for my taste. I make my own iced tea and powdered lemonade mixes and I add citric acid to both mixes to tart 'em up to my taste.

I add it to jams, jellies and glazes to cut the sweetness. Also frosting and marinades. Basically, anything that would be improved with a touch of tartness.

Ever since they cut the phosphorus out of automatic dishwasher detergent, people have complained the new version doesn't clean as well. The solution: add a spoonful of citric acid along with the new detergent when you run a load.

You can make a DIY weedkiller (foliage burner) by mixing a cup of vinegar with a dash of dish soap and a big spoonful of citric acid. Some people add orange or clove oil to enhance the kill.
posted by Lunaloon at 12:09 PM on May 8, 2018

Best answer: Borscht, baby! Citric acid is also known as 'sour salt' and used in dishes such as borscht.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 5:48 PM on May 8, 2018

Response by poster: I'm not a huge fan of watermelon, but now I'm excited to try spindrifter's suggestion! I just got the 2lb bag delivered and it's huge. Glad I didn't go with any larger.

sarajane - my understanding is that you just mix X amount of the powder with Y amount of water and run it thru the coffee maker. I don't know the exact proportions yet, I was going to google that when the time comes.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 8:06 AM on May 12, 2018

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