The Lebanese alternatives to lemon juice


I was inspired to write this blog post when Olivia, the mother of a colleague, sent me a bottle of grape verjuice (hamod el hosrom) for me to try with Tabbouleh instead of regular lemon juice. She knows I’m a foodie and she has been interacting with me ever since I launched my blog.

I am an eternal lover of acidic tastes. I used to eat whole lemons when I was a kid, and I have been exposed to delightful alternatives ever since my early childhood years. To-date, I still use these alternatives, especially with meat and poultry, as they add more flavors than just the acidity of the juice.

  • Pomegranate molasses: This one is my all-time favorite. My mother used to soak my steaks in it and I kept the habit going. When the steak is done, I’d get French fries or a simple loaf of bread and soak it in the remaining sauce so that I don’t waste any. It tastes even better with the jus and spices from the steak! It goes perfectly well with red meat, birds, sausages, poultry and chicken liver.
  • Hamod el bousfeir: This one is very acidic, but it also has a hint of orange flavors in it. It’s very different in taste and is mostly used with beans (foul mdammas, balila, etc.). It balances the general dryness of beans with a perfect acidity and a tiny bit of sweetness thanks to the orange flavors it contains.
  • Grape verjuice (Hamod el hosrom): Have you ever eaten hosrom and do you know what it is? Let me explain; hosrom is green grapes and by green I mean unripe grapes. The grapes are plucked just as soon as they take shape and start growing. If you’ve never eaten hosrom, you don’t know what acidity actually means! 🙂 It is so acidic that it’s actually bitter, so imagine how it tastes when it is pressed to get the juice out… That juice, by itself, will burn a hole in your stomach :). That’s why it is generally mixed with a little honey for reduction. Enjoy hamod el hosrom with all kinds of salads including Tabbouleh, and as Olivia recommended, with any type of food.

Of course, there are the more regular alternatives too, like sumac and vinegar. I am sure that in some regions, there are other alternatives that are used and that are unknown to me. I’d love to hear your feedback on this! If you know of any other alternatives, please let me know so I try them out.