Any pH below 7.0 is acidic, and the closer a pH is to zero, the more acidic it is. The pH of lime juice ranges between 2.0 and 2.3. Therefore, adding lime juice to most things will make them more acidic. When it comes to pickling to preserve vegetables and other foods, lemon juice is often added to acidify preserves to increase shelf life and avoid bacterial contamination. Some gardeners add lemon juice to the soil for acid-loving plants, such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
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Things you need
- pH meter or test kit
- Bottled lemon juice
Follow a reputable recipe when preserving vegetables, meats and other foods. Lemon and lime juice may often be used interchangeably. Lime juice can also be used instead of vinegar, but the vinegar may have a slightly higher pH.
Measure the pH of the pickled mixtures before canning and storing to ensure enough lime juice was added. According to Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, ideally pickled foods should have a pH of 4.2 or lower. If the pH is above 4.2, add more lime juice. Utah State University Cooperative Extension recommends 1/4 cup of lemon juice per pint as part of its preserved salsa recipe. Lime juice might be substituted by taste.
Measure the pH of your garden soil to gauge whether the pH is appropriate for the plants growing there. For example, azaleas and rhododendrons prefer a pH between 5.0 and 5.8; fuchsias, sunflowers and tomatoes prefer a pH between 5.5 and 5.8, advises PlanTea.
Mix 1 tbsp of lime juice with 1 gallon of water and pour it over the soil around the base of the plants to lower the pH and make the soil more acidic.
Measure the pH of the soil once again to ensure that you did not overacidify the soil. If so, limestone and wood ashes are just some options for raising the pH.
Sprinkle a few drops of lime juice while cooking if you think the dish is missing an acid note.
Tips and warnings
- Whether you have a pH meter or pH test kit, follow the instructions. Generally, insert either a probe or litmus paper into the medium and the meter or litmus paper will provide a reading. When taking a soil sample, mix soil and distilled water in a cup and then insert the probe or litmus paper into the mixture.
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- Utah State University Cooperative Extension: What About Salsa?
- The University of Wisconsin, Madison: Food Safety and Health: pH Values of Food and Common Ingredients
- PlanTea: Acid or Alkaline?
- Cornell University: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: "Venture" Spring 2001
- Drug Safety Society: Rhododendron