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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Alum Powder

Have you ever heard of Alum Powder and its various culinary uses? Though not widely used today, this powder was once seen as an essential ingredient in many recipes around the world.

However, it has now become difficult to find alum powder in stores, leaving many cooks scratching their heads over how to replace it.

There are a few interesting substitutes that can replace the specialty powder, giving chefs a chance to get creative with unusual ingredients such as pickling lime or kosher salt.

Read on to find out the five best alternatives for Alum Powder.

What’s Alum Powder?

Alum powder is an age-old ingredient used in both cosmetic and culinary applications.

It’s derived from multiple varieties of the potassium sulfate mineral and appears as a colorless, white, or off-white crystal powder.

The alum powder has an astringent, bitter taste that’s generally common for salt substances, with a slight burning sensation when used in higher doses.

This substance is mainly used to remove excess oil from skin and hair, reduce inflammation and swelling, remove sweat odor, whiten teeth, and, most commonly, as an ingredient for pickling fruit.

Alum powder is easy to use – just dissolve it in hot or cold water before applying topically to the affected area or adding it to food at the recommended dosage instructions.

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Alum Powder

If you’re looking for a substitute for alum powder, look no further.

Alum powder is used in a variety of culinary applications but can be difficult to find in some parts of the world.

We’ve done the research and have rounded up five of the best substitutes for alum powder that are sure to make your cooking easier and tastier than ever.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsSubstitute Ratio
Pickling SpiceA blend of spices used in pickling1:1
Cream Of TartarAcidic powder with a tangy flavor1/2 tsp cream of tartar for every 1/2 tsp alum powder
Arrowroot Powder and Citric AcidThickening agent and acidic flavor enhancer1:1 (equal parts arrowroot powder and citric acid)
LimeTangy citrus flavor1 lime for every 1 tsp alum powder
Ascorbic AcidVitamin C powder, adds acidity and acts as a preservative1:1

Now, let’s dive into each substitute in more detail:

1 – Pickling Spice

Pickling spice is a unique and fascinating blend of herbs, spices, and other seasonings used in the pickling process.

Its most prominent ingredients include mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, allspice, chili flakes, peppercorns, and ginger.

Depending on the brand or household recipe, pickling spice might also contain fennel seeds, caraway seeds, and mace.

It provides an earthy flavor to any pickled vegetable or fruit.

In contrast to alum powder which often creates a salty after-taste in pickles, pickling spice’s natural ingredients result in a complementary taste that works well with cucumbers or beets, for example.

While it is not possible to accurately recreate the flavor of pickling spice with individual ingredients from the blend, using a mix of coriander seed and bay leaf can be an effective substitute.

Furthermore, adding cloves or celery seeds can enhance the overall flavor.

With its distinct yet versatile flavor profile, pickling spice should be completely considered when marinating or prepping vegetables or fruits for pickling.

2 – Cream Of Tartar

Cream of tartar is a sodium salt derived from the process of winemaking.

It’s also known as Potassium Bitartrate, and you may have even seen it in baking recipes before.

Many people recognize it for its slightly tart taste and texture, making it a popular choice to add balance to both sweet and savory dishes.

While you can use cream of tartar for everything from icings to sauces and more, its primary use is as a stabilizing agent in meringues, making them whiter and stiffer.

To substitute alum powder, mix 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar with two tablespoons of water until it forms a paste.

Incorporating this unique ingredient into recipes can unleash new flavors and textures that would otherwise be impossible.

3 – Arrowroot Powder and Citric Acid

Arrowroot powder and citric acid are two ingredients that may not be found in everyone’s pantry but can be useful for topping off homemade creations.

While arrowroot powder is a good thickening agent for sauces and gravies, its absorbent quality also makes it an excellent replacement for alum powder when making pickles.

Citric acid is an edible souring agent that can also help to preserve food as it naturally has antibacterial properties.

Its flavor will vary depending on the concentration used, giving food a sour taste similar to vinegar or lemon juice.

The taste of arrowroot powder and citric acid on their own may be somewhat bland, so don’t be surprised if they don’t seem flavorful when tested alone.

However, once added to a dish, the correct quantity of both these ingredients can perk up flavors and make your creation even more tantalizing.

4 – Lime

Limes have a refreshing tartness that lends itself to a variety of sweet and savory recipes.

The acidic juice provides tartness, which balances the richness of high-fat dishes like fish tacos, creamy sauces, and ceviche.

Besides imparting acidity and flavor, limes also contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Their thin skin is bitter and packed with essential oils, making them a great accompaniment to cocktails such as margaritas and mojitos.

As for their texture, most limes are juicy yet firm when ripe – perfect for juicing or grating into salads or marinades.

If you don’t have limes on hand but need to add acidity to your dish, you can use lemon juice as a substitute or even alum powder if it calls for that unique lime flavor.

Either way, you’ll get the same kind of desired acidic taste without having to worry about perplexing alternatives.

5 – Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, is a naturally occurring substance found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Though Vitamin C plays an important role in many of our body’s functions, it can also be used for pickling and preserving food at home.

Not only does ascorbic acid aid in the preservation of food items, but its flavors are also very subtle and mildly acidic, so there’s no worry about over-seasoning store-bought produce when adding the preservative to recipes.

Plus, it serves as a safe substitute for traditional pickling ingredients like alum powder.

With the simple combination of salt and ascorbic acid, your homemade canned creations will taste even better than their store-bought counterparts.


In conclusion, there are a variety of alternative ingredients that can be used to substitute traditional alum powder.

Ingredients like pickling spice, cream of tartar, arrowroot powder and citric acid, limes, and ascorbic acid all make for suitable replacements without compromising on taste or texture.

They provide not only unique flavors to enhance your dishes but also offer additional health benefits.

So don’t be perplexed by the absence of alum powder in your pantry; there are plenty of alternatives to explore and enjoy.

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