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lemon butter sauce

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi, I made lemon butter sauce using this recipe a while back but it turned out disgustingly sour. I attempted to add sugar & soy sauce but to no avail :( what should I do? 

post #2 of 23
Anything made with lemon could be affected by the characteristics of the lemon variety and ripeness of the fruit. Eureka lemon will be tarter than Meyer lemon. Less ripe will be tarter than fully ripe.

Suggest he following: don't eat or serve sauce that is so tart as to be inpalatable; taste the lemon before cooking with it and adjust accordingly. Maybe find a better recipe too.

Without more details that vague advice is all that really can be offered.
post #3 of 23
Did you add any chicken broth, white wine or herbs? Looks like you wanted to include a link? Hard to tell without seeing the recipe or more specifics.
post #4 of 23

Can you post the recipe?  Readers can probably provide more input (assuming you followed them to a 'T').

post #5 of 23

Why use the juice at all?  I would just use lemon zest for the aroma


Save the juice for other things obviously

post #6 of 23

But you can not make meunière sauce with the zest.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
post #7 of 23

ah true I didn't read the "sauce" part, just the "lemon butter".


It is very early here

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi, thanks so much for all of your responses! Sorry for the late reply, I used this recipe

post #9 of 23
Take the lemon juice out of the reduction- I put not much more in much larger quantities of sauce. Bump up the wine a little, maybe add a couple drops of lemon juice, then taste it when it's done and mix in a little more lemon juice at the finish... would be my recommendation.
FYI a classic buerre blanc would be vinegar, wine, shallots, butter, and salt. Try it like that sometime, it's quite good.
post #10 of 23

First off there is way too much lemon juice in this recipe.  Secondly, I wouldn't add it to the reduction.  I was always taught to add lemon juice at the end, not in the reduction.  So you will need to bump up the white wine a bit in the reduction.  Also, I should ask; did you use fresh lemon juice or lemon juice from a bottle?  If you used lemon juice from a bottle forget it.  It is way more sour than fresh juice and doesn't have near the flavor.

post #11 of 23

Ugh, you guys really think that 3 tablespoons of lemon juice is too much? Thats not that much at all, IMO, especially for half a pound of butter. The proportions look right to me. 


My guess is that the emulsion wasn't made properly and the sauce split, resulting in a sour-lemon juice taste rather than a creamy butter taste. This makes a huge difference in the overall taste of any emulsified sauce. If the sauce is separated then it is easy to just taste one note of sour. 


Vinaigrette is this way too, it tastes totally different when emulsified vs. broken. 


Also, the sauce is meant to go ON fish, if you taste it just by itself it might be too strong. Properly and proportionally spooned over a piece of salmon, chicken or whatever, if might be just the ticket. 


The sauce should be creamy, thick(ish), and pale. If the butter looks plain melted or the sauce is thin and whatnot, its broken. If yours was broken I think that was probably the culprit. 

post #12 of 23
Originally Posted by Someday View Post

Ugh, you guys really think that 3 tablespoons of lemon juice is too much? Thats not that much at all, IMO, especially for half a pound of butter. The proportions look right to me. 



I made Lemon Butter Sauce on an almost daily basis for quite a long time, in my long career and I usually used 1 large lemon (which yields approximately 3-4 tablespoons) for a batch using 2 pounds of butter, but I also used approximately 2/3-3/4's cup of white wine for my initial reduction. 

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hmmm @Someday may I know how lemon butter sauce gets broken? Sorry, I've never heard of such a term before..


@Pete I used a fresh lemon!!! hmmmm would you mind sharing with me your lemon butter sauce recipe? 

post #14 of 23

Sarah, a properly made butter sauce will look creamy and satiny.  A broken sauce will look more like a vinaigrette with the clear butterfat sitting on top of the other liquid.  A butter sauce can break for many reasons; getting too hot, getting too cold, trying to whisk the butter in too quickly, putting in too much butter at one time.


I find it much easier to make larger batches of butter sauce than to make small batches, but here's how I do it.  I usually don't measure so these measurements are approximations.  I am using 1/2 pound of butter in the recipe to approximate your recipe


-Finely mince 1 shallot

-Take 2 sticks of unsalted butter out of the fridge.  Cut them, lengthwise, into quarters then cut into cubes. 

-Place shallots and approximately 1/3 cup of white wine into a small sauce pot. Put over medium high heat and reduce until almost most dry.  There should be the barest of liquid left in the pot.

-Reduce your heat to low. Put 4-5 cubes of butter into the pot and whip vigorously until it is fully melted.  The butter should remain creamy.  Add another 4-5 pieces and repeat until all the butter has been used, always adding only a few pieces at a time.  Continuously check the temperature of the sauce with your finger.  It should be warm but not hot.  If it starts to feel hot remove from the heat and continue to add the butter.

-Once all the butter has been added, season with a bit of salt and add your lemon juice.  I would start with approximately 2 teaspoons, adding more, in small increments until you get the flavor you want.

-Strain and serve immediately.  If you need to hold the sauce for a few minutes try just keeping it on the stove top, by the other things you are cooking but not directly over heat.  This should keep it warm enough while you finish off cooking your meal.


While not traditional, if you want to give yourself a bit of insurance from breaking your sauce you can add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream to your wine before you start your reduction.  In that case you would reduce the liquid to the point were the cream has thickened considerably and not a lot remains, careful not to let it burn.  Then proceed with the recipe.  This is a good option for those that have not made a butter sauce before and don't plan on making it regularly.  The flavor is a little muted compared to the traditional way, without cream, but again, if you find that you are having trouble then this method is good to use.

post #15 of 23

You can use even more wine than Pete suggests  The key is cooking the shallots because the little bit of starch will help keep the "sauce" together.  Also do not be afraid to reduce the wine until almost dry.  It should be syrupy.

post #16 of 23
@Someday my experience has always been that when there are equal parts or more lemon juice than wine, reduction makes it very sour. So for me it's about the proportion of this very small batch. Everything you said is true.
post #17 of 23
How come no one mentioned lemon oil? The juice is fine, the more you add, the tangier the sauce; too tart. However, lemon oil is strong without the unnecessary tang.
post #18 of 23

I think that because this recipe is essentially a beurre blanc, adding oil would be risky.  It is hard enough to keep the butter emulsion stable without adding more oil.

post #19 of 23

If I made a larger batch like Pete prefers to do, can any unused portion be refrigerated and reheated at a later time without affecting the consistency?

post #20 of 23

Yes it can.  Just cool it down.  I will solidify.  The next day, make another wine reduction.  While that is reducing dice up the now solidified lemon butter sauce.  Once your reduction is done slowly whisk in the solid butter sauce, using it in place of your butter.  You might have to add a bit of plain butter, at the end, to balance out the sauce.

post #21 of 23

Thanks Pete for the quick response!  Is it necessary to make a wine reduction the next day?  Could I just add the diced solidified lemon butter sauce to a pan to warm it up before using?

post #22 of 23

If you do that it will break, it needs a water based medium in which to emulsify. 


Unless you don't mind your sauce being broken, in which case go for it. 

post #23 of 23

Thanks Someday.  I did not know that.  I had always wondered why you don't see these types of sauces at the grocery stores, I'm guessing this is why.  

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