And no, it's not bacon.

If you’ve ever gone camping, you probably know that the only proper mentality to have is to “figure it out.” Surprise downpour? Figure it out. Forgot your sleeping bag at home? Figure it out. Can’t find the nearest gas station and you have no service? Figure it out. Trying to whip up some guacamole to go with your campfire taco dinner but you didn’t buy any limes? Figure it out. Luckily, out of all these predicaments, I’ve only actually experienced one. Can you take a guess which one it is? The most dire of them all—NO LIMES FOR FRESH GUAC! AH!

Because I am a seasoned camper, I know that the only way to get through a trying situation like this is to remain calm and collected and use a little bit of outside-of-the-box thinking to make the best of your situation. So, when I was on a camping trip recently and realized that we forgot to grab some limes at the store for our fresh guacamole, I scratched my head and took a good, hard look at the clementines that we conveniently bought for snacking. Could they do the trick? When life gives you clementines and no limes, well, you put that ish in your guacamole and hope for the best.

No-Frills Guacamole
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Caitlin Bensel

The results? Let’s just say that our itty bitty clementines did the job, and MORE. The subtle sweetness gave the guacamole a citrusy, bright flavor without any bitterness. Come to think of it, this substitute actually makes a lot of sense—if you’ve ever made a margarita, you’ll know that most recipes call for triple sec (orange liqueur) or freshly squeezed orange juice. The sweetness that oranges and clementines provide stand up nicely to balance the overtly tart flavor of a lime. Not only did we forgive ourselves for forgetting to buy such a crucial guacamole component, we promised ourselves that we’d never make a guacamole again without our miraculous substitution.

Since this mind-blowing camping discovery, I like to make guacamole with a few different acidic components, if I can. Samin Nosrat mentioned on her podcast that she likes to layer acids when she’s making a homemade salad dressing because it adds more complexity to such a simple sauce. For example, she’ll use both red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice in order to create a more interesting and nuanced dressing. I think the same should go for any sauce or dish. My idea of a perfect guacamole is one that’s super pared down. I don’t add tomatoes or onion or corn or GREEK YOGURT (dear God) because I don’t think they’re necessary. Avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, fresh citrus juice, salt and pepper is really all you need.

That said, I now like to “layer” different citruses whenever I can. The difference in adding a squeeze of orange or clementine in addition to fresh lime and/or lemon juice is subtle, but extremely impactful. I’ve even tried a version with some fresh grapefruit juice (it’s my favorite citrus, NBD), and the results were equally delicious. Point being—don’t be afraid to get creative with your citruses and acids. You never know which combos will taste delicious together. And if you’re not sure which combo of citruses to use in your next homemade guac, well, figure it out.