20 Sour Foods That Will Make Your Taste Buds Pucker
The five basic food taste sensations include sweet, salty sour, bitter and umami. The sensory preference for food varies among individuals and that for sour food is mainly associated with sex and age. Sour food comes with a package of tongue-tingling flavors and numerous health-related benefits.
The average taste bud count in a human tongue is about 10,000 each consisting of receptor cells. The chemistry of sour taste has been associated with acids that penetrate the membrane of these cells and release hydrogen ions inside the cell thereby eliciting a sour taste response. The following are 20 sour foods for you to try:
1. Common Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit and pomelo are full of citric acid and ascorbic acid. The face-puckering acidity in these fruits has a pH in the range of 3 to 4. The common ways of including these fruits are in the form of juice in breakfast or eating whole fruit.
Drying citruses for preservation is also common and can be used for different purposes. For instance, dried lime popular as limoo-amani is used in stews like Gheimeh in Iran. Additionally, these citrus fruits also have great health benefits.
2. Some Unfamiliar Citruses
The novel citruses that we have heard very less about also rule the sour food world. Some of these fruits are listed below:
Kumquats: Kumquats are evergreen shrubs native to Southeast Asia. These tangy fruits resemble oranges in shape and color.
Calamansi: Calamansi also known as Philippine lime are cultivated in the Philippines. It is a hybrid between Kumquat and Mandarin Orange.
Yuzu: Yuzu is native to Japan and possesses the size of a tangerine.
Kabosu: Kabosu is familiar in Japan and is a combination of lime, lemon and yuzu.
Sudachi: Sudachi resembling lemon/lime also has Japanese origin which is not used as food but rather used in food flavoring.
Vinegar is an acetic acid-based product that is made by fermentation using yeast. The sourness of this fermented product makes it a successful condiment to add flavor or as a preservant.
White distilled, balsamic, rice, wine, apple cider, malt and flavored vinegar are various kinds of vinegar used in the cookery industry to balance out flavors.
Umeboshi is a Japanese pickled food made by fermenting the fruit ume, a kind of plum. The fermented ume is sun-dried to make its use prolonged in the summertime.
The strong and intense sour taste is utilized to bring flavor to onigiri, ochazuke, tempura, salad dressings, noodles, sandwiches, rice balls and vinaigrettes.
Rhubarb is a spring vegetable with crimson-colored stalks. The color is imparted by a plant pigment called anthocyanin. The only edible part is stem while leaves are considered poisonous due to the presence of oxalic acid.
The tart-flavored stem enriches various foods such as crumble, scones, puddings, baked items, muffins and many more delicacies with its color and acidity.
Sumac in Arabic means dark red. Sumac is crimson-colored spice prepared from dried and ground wild berries native to Iran. This astringent ingredient can be used as a condiment in various dishes in place of lemon or lime.
Sumac can be used to give tarted Middle East flavors to roasted chicken, sweet potato wedges, creamy dips, salads, fish and any side dish. The touch of this spice on your dish will certainly make you reminisce lemon juice.
Gooseberries also called feaberries are native to temperate regions. With hundreds of varieties, these tart fruits are rich in citric acid and malic acid. However, many states in the US have banned it because of the spread of mildew fungus.
Gooseberries can be eaten whole or can be used in pies, jam, crumbles and desserts. They were also served with fatty meats because of their sharp flavor.
Tamarind is a tropical fruit native to Africa. The brown bean-like pods are filled with sour pulps that surround the seed. These pulps are edible and are widely used in Asian culture. The sour taste of the pulp is imparted by tartaric acid.
Tamarind is consumed as a beverage, in savory recipes such as pickles, chutneys, stews, curries and as a marinade. Mainly popular in Indian cuisine, they are also used in sodas, cocktails and iced teas.
9. Buah Duku or Langsat
Langsat is a sour fruit that originated in western South-East Asia. It is a popular summer dessert fruit in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Known as Longkong, duku or dongkong, these fruits are sour due to the presence of citric acid and malic acid.
These fruits are eaten whole and can be used in salsa, salads, jams and mainly in desserts.
Carambola also called star fruit are native to Southeast Asia. These fruits have a sour taste with oxalic acid odor. Star fruits are more tangy than oranges but less tangy than lime. The less ripened the fruit, more the citrusy the flavor exists.
The best way to eat carambola is to dip it in a mixture of salt and red chili powder and enjoy the burst of flavors. These fruits are also pickled and used in salads but are often relegated to garnishes.
Graviola also known as soursoup or Brazilian pawpaw is a large tropical fruit with white flesh covered with spiky skin. The flesh has a creamy texture and acidic taste similar to that of pineapple. It is widely known as a natural remedy for various ailments including cancer.
Graviola is enjoyed raw and can be used in making soursoup smoothies and soursoup juice. Graviola powder is also used as a dietary supplement.
12. Sour Dairy Products
Milk products obtained by applying fermentation techniques fall under this category. Lactose is the natural sugar found in dairy foods. The starter culture used for fermentation converts the lactose to lactic acid hence turning the taste of the product sour.
Fermented dairy products first came out as fermented milk produced accidentally from the Near East and became popular later. Lactic acid-based dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, kefir, Creme Fraiche and sourdough are examples of sour dairy products.
13. Sour Candies
Sour candies are acidic ingredient-incorporated candies. In ancient times, tamarind and also a mix of honey and lemon were used to make sour candies. Recently, confectioners depend upon organic acids such as citric acid and malic acid for the commercial production of sour candies.
This subset of candies became popular due to the sensory preference in children and females. The tangy and puckery sensation hits your taste buds making you go golly. Popular sour candies include toxic waste, zweet sour belts, big sour chewy nerds, sour skittles, cry baby gums and warheads.
In German, sauer means sour and kraut means cabbage. Sauerkraut is known to have originated in China where cabbage was fermented using rice wine. This puckery side dish was then later carried to Europe by tartars. With an abundance of lactic acid, the preparation requires just cabbage and salt.
Sauerkraut was simply eaten with rice during its origin. A jar of the kraut can be used as a dip, salad, in sandwiches, burgers, salads, sushi and many more.
15. Kimchi and Pickles
Kimchi and pickles are fermented foods. Fermented or brined pickles undergo the process of fermentation imparting a sour taste to the final product obtained. The fermentation process is several weeks long in which the vegetables of desire and brine are placed in a tight jar. These fermented products are popular as side dishes mainly in Asian cuisine.
Some of the popular pickles around the world include pickled olives, pickled cucumber, carrots, mango and pickled peppers. Apart from richness in sour flavor, pickles also come with a lot of health related benefits. Pickles can be used in salads, burgers, sandwiches, braises, hot dogs, fried rice and many more.
Pineapple is a tropical fruit indigenous to South America. Unlike other fruits, pineapple grows near to the ground at the center of a leafy shrub. The presence of organic acids malic acid and citric acid contributes to its tangy flavor.
Being a fruit, it is eaten as a whole but is also popular as grilled, juiced, in puddings, pizzas, salsas, pina coladas and salads
Most types of berries are sour until they reach maturity. However, upon completing the maturation phase some of the berries remain sour because of factors like cold weather and overproduction on a bush.
Some of the sour berries include:
Cranberry: Cranberries are sour even when they are ripe.
Raspberry: Raspberries are fairly sour.
Loganberry: These berries are more tart than raspberry.
Barberry: Barberry belongs to the cranberry family and is sour.
18. Tart Cherries
Tart cherries that look similar to sweet cherries have a unique sour flavor to them. These cherries are summer fruits and are red in color due to the pigment anthocyanin which has numerous health benefits.
Montmorency, morello and balaton are sour cherry varieties that can make your cheeks pucker. Tart cherries can be consumed fresh as snacks, in smoothies, energy bars, baked goods and as juice.
19. Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is a vine species of passion flower native to Southern Brazil. This fruit is round or oval and the size typically ranges from small to medium. The edible parts of passion fruit are pulp and seeds. The flavor of the fruit is citrusy with hints of pineapple and kiwi. Quite tart when fresh, the sweetness increases upon ripeness.
The zesty flavor of this summer fruit can be utilized as a whole or in various recipes including smoothies, porridge, juice, cocktails, granola and bakery items.
20. Unripe Fruits
Unripe fruits are sour because the process of sugar formation is still ongoing. The only reason that the ripe fruits are sweet is because of the plant's need to disperse its seed to continue its survival. Unripe fruits like mango and grapes are exceedingly sour due to the presence of organic acids namely citric acid and tartaric acid. Green apples and unripe plums are known to have malic acid.
Unripe fruits are healthy and can be used to prepare salads, chutneys, jams and jellies. Green apples are often used to make apple cider vinegar.
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