Here’s an interesting product. Many people are trying to switch from sugary or diet soft drinks to water. But they can’t seem to bring themselves to drinking unflavored H 2 O. Adding some flavor makes the difference, and a wedge of lemon is probably at the top of the list.
Alas, what if you don’t have a lemon on hand?
Or don’t want to cut a single wedge out of a lemon for your glass of water?
True Lemon aims to be your solution. According to the company website:
David Schleider, a chef by training … spent three years creating and perfecting True Lemon … was often frustrated with lemons: they are inconsistent in taste, messy to use, spoil easy, and inconvenient. And from a chef’s point of view, they are labor-intensive …
[He found] a way to duplicate authentic, fresh-squeezed lemon taste but in a crystallized, shelf-stable manner that was convenient to use any time, anywhere.
The product claims to be 100% Natural, unsweetened, and made from lemons. Sounds cool. We took a look what’s inside…
What you need to know:
We expected the ingredient list to be just lemon, but what we saw was a bit surprising:
Citric Acid, Lemon Oil, Lemon Juice, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). Contains Soy
What are all these things, and how did “made from lemons” turn into 5 different ingredients?
Turns out that a lemon can be deconstructed into various elements. Each of them can them be used for different purposes. This is pretty much what happened here:
Citric Acid is what makes lemons acidic. But in this product, and in most processed foods, it is actually cheaper to manufacture in a lab. Citric acid is produced through the use of Aspergillus Niger, a mold that feeds on cheap corn syrup glucose.
Lemon oil and lemon juice are from lemons.
Organic evaporated cane juice is a synonym for sugar. because it is added in such a small amount, the nutrition label can legally state 0 sugar and 0 calories. But it’s hard to reconcile the presence of this sweetener with “unsweetened” marketing claim on the front of package.
Ascorbic acid is vitamin C. It is naturally found in lemons, but evaporates almost the minute a lemon is squeezed or cut. So in processing, lab-made ascorbic acid is added back to the product. By the way, ascorbic acid is considered a good preservative. That’s why squeezing lemon juice on sliced apples will keep them from browning.
Last but not least, why does True Lemon contain soy? Last we checked, soybeans have not found their way into lemon trees.
The answer lies in the manufacturing process of this product. A tiny amount of soy lecithin is used to create the lemon flavored crystals. Since people with allergies may be sensitive to soy even in such small quantities, the FDA requires marking its presence.
Bottom line: this product is probably a good way to wean yourself of off sodas and sugary drinks when a lemon is not available (Does that ever happen?). But we are a bit uneasy with the product name (“True Lemon”) and sell-info on front compared to the ingredient list on the back.