Lemon pepper is a refreshing blend of the peel of real lemons and coarsely ground pepper. It’s a classic spice for grilled or baked fresh fish (chicken or turkey) and gives fresh zing to grilled, roasted or steamed vegetables, salads, salad dressings, and hummus.
Lemon pepper is often considered a tasty alternative to salt, but beware. Not all lemon peppers are alike. There are several brands on the supermarket shelves and some include salt and sugar.
This Spice Is Nice
Spicely® Organic Lemon Pepper is a pure product that’s rather herbal with a touch of tang. Best of all, it contains NO added salt, sugar, processed starches, anti-caking agents, or food colorants. This seasoning is a delicious blend of: Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Garlic, Organic Onion, Organic Celery Seed, Organic Dill Seed, and Organic Turmeric.
Spicely also makes an Organic Lemon Peel if you like even more lemon-y zest on your food. Lemons add brightness and acidity to any dish. The lemon peel is granulated and delicious in soups and marinades as well.
Spicely states, “All imported spices are required to go through a sterilization process before being sold in the United States. Most spice companies sterilize using synthetic chemicals or radiation. Spicely Organics uses a process called steam sterilization, which sterilizes food products without adding any chemicals or hazardous materials.”
The Not-So-Fit Finds
McCormick’s California Style Lemon Pepper with Garlic & Onion – Black Pepper, Lemon Peel, Citric Acid*, Salt, Onion, Garlic, Sugar, Maltodextrin**, Lemon Juice Solids, and Natural Flavors.
*Citric Acid is a white crystalline powder produced commercially by using a culture of Aspergillus niger (a fungus) and feeding it simple sugar. Molasses is used primarily for citric acid fermentation since it’s readily available and relatively inexpensive. A. niger uses the glucose as food and produces citric acid and carbon dioxide (C02) as waste products.
NOTE: This is the same fungus that causes a disease called ‘black mold’ on certain fruits and vegetables (e.g., grapes, apricots, onions, and peanuts) and is a common contaminant of food. In foods, citric acid is used as a flavor enhancer, preservative and emulsifier.
**Maltodextrin is a cheap filler or thickener that’s added to processed foods. It’s derived from starch, i.e., carbohydrates, such as corn, wheat, potatoes, or rice. The processed starch turns into a moderately sweet or a flavorless white powder. Maltodextrin is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, in fact, as rapidly as pure glucose. This additive is used in some spice blends as we’ve just learned, but it’s often used in:
- Soft drinks
- Salad dressings
- Artificial sweeteners (as a bulking agent)
- Infant formula (as a thickener)
- Liquid food replacements
- Protein powders
Simply Organic Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Garlic, Organic Onion, Organic Thyme, Organic Rice Concentrate.
McCormick Perfect Pinch® Lemon & Pepper – Ingredients: Salt, Black Pepper, Citric Acid, Onion, Sugar, Garlic, Calcium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, and Calcium Silicate (added to make free flowing), Celery Seed, Lemon Oil, and FD&C Yellow 5 Lake.
Penzeys Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Salt, Special Extra Bold Black Pepper, Citric Acid, Lemon Peel, Garlic, and Minced Green Onion.
Lawry’s Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Black Pepper, Salt, Modified Food Starch***, Citric Acid, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Garlic, Onion, Natural Flavor, Riboflavin (for color). Contains no MSG.
***Modified Food Starch is processed from starches, such as wheat, rice, tapioca, potato, and corn and used as a thickening agent, stabilizer or emulsifier. It’s added to foods similarly as is maltodextrin.
Spice Islands Lemon Pepper – Ingredients: Black Pepper, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Dehydrated Garlic, Dehydrated Onion, Natural Flavor, and Riboflavin (for color).
Fit Tip: The print on the nutritional labels of spices and seasonings is VERY small. So if you have reading glasses, bring them with you to the grocery store in order to accurately read the ingredients! 😀
For roasting vegetables, try adding 1 tablespoon of Spicely Lemon Pepper to 2 cups of raw veggies before cooking.