Restauranteur asks if stainless steel okay for lemon juice (citric acid)?
I work for a restaurant chain that is switching from plastic cambros to all stainless steel. They seem to believe a myth that tomato acids react to stainless steel. I have already disproved this myth. Now they are saying that our guacamole(which is made with a touch of lemon juice) will react to stainless steel and become discolored. I disproved the color theory yesterday. Now they are saying it is a slight taste difference. I think it taste different because they want it to and their mind is telling them it does. The whole reason behind the argument is that we are using plastic liners in the tomato products and guacamole pans. I am trying to eliminate the use and save the company money. The proof they want seems like they want me to proof there is no such thing as Bigfoot, when there is no proof that he actually exists.Chris Milazzo
Restaurant - Winter Park , Florida
Chris, as a metallurgist with almost 25 years experience dealing with stainless steels, I'm in your corner. You'd better not serve anything that will attack stainless steel, as that substance will quickly and dangerously corrode the palates of your diners. :) Nor can I believe any food or beverage will leach out metal from stainless, affecting the taste of the product.
That said, there are different stainless steel alloys. Pans, sinks, and some flatware are made from the 300 series, so-called "18-8" varieties, which have quite good corrosion resistance. The cutlery grades like 440C are used to make knives, because it gets hard and keeps an edge: yet its corrosion resistance is much less than the 300 series grades, and it might show rust if you left it in salt water for a time.
You've also got to be careful about scrubbing the stainless steel with a brillo pad, or any other steel wool contact. If those plain steel fibers imbed in the stainless, they'll rust and take the surrounding stainless steel with it. Perhaps this is the source of your co-workers' concerns?
One last thought regarding the taste issue- I'd find it far easier to believe that plasticizers, dyes, UV inhibitors, and other additives to plastics can theoretically leach out into food or beverage, than metallic ions from stainless steel, especially as time and temperature cycles from cleaning march on.
September 18, 2009
I agree with Lee. As long as the stainless steel you are using is not contaminated with iron, ferric oxides etc and is not "rusting". The stainless will not change the color or taste.
To obtain the highest quality pure finish for stainless, have your parts electropolished. This will remove all contaminants and leave the surface ultra-clean. Also if you can, demand at least 304 or more preferably 316 stainless steel.
My suspicions are that your "tasters" have gotten used to the leached plastic taste in the food as opposed to the REAL taste they are missing if they were to use leach free food prep equipment.
electropolishing shop - North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|March 3, 2011
Appreciate the replies here!...I stumbled upon this why googling "stainless steel" and "lemon", together, as I have a "Designed for Living" stainless steel water bottle, and was wondering whether my adding a couple of lemon wedges into my water would introduce any type of corrosive affect on the interior of the bottle.
- East Greenwich, Rhode Island USA
DFL Water Bottle
March 20, 2011
Yesterday, I made a lemon curd to top a cheesecake. The process involved cooking lemon juice and sugar together for several minutes. Instead of using a non-stick pan that I have used several times in the past, I used a stainless pan that is supposed to be non-reactive. When the cheesecake was tasted, I noted a metallic taste that was not present in earlier cheesecakes. Although stainless steel is non-reactive for most cooking applications, it is still a steel alloy. Will an acid such as hot lemon juice leach iron from stainless steel?
I'm thinking that I should look for a pyrex sauce pan for cooking acidic foods.
Cooking enthusiast - Orange, California, USA
January 22, 2012
Q. I've been hooked on lemonade for awhile. I have to use plastic bottles to drink from b/c I have Multiple Sclerosis & I spill alot. Today I purchased a stainless steel sports bottle from L.L. Bean b/c the plastic bottle becomes cloudy after a few refills (is the cloudiness from plastic dissolving or from the lemon bleaching?). Did I make a mistake? Will the stainless react w/the lemonade?
Please answer quickly--I might have to cancel an order...
- SOMERS PT
January 23, 2012
Hi, Dona. It's a public forum; people may not see and respond to your posting for years. Fortunately, L.L. Bean has an unconditional moneyback guarantee: "We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory".
But we appended your inquiry to a thread that may already answer it for you.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey