The Taste of Sour: Exploring the world of sour foods
Today I’ll be diving into the world of sour foods. Life wouldn’t be as interesting without a good pucker. I think I heard that once. Regardless, the object of adding sour notes to our dishes is to create interest but without the pucker.
We all know sour when we taste it, but what is it? Chemically, they are acids or foods whose pH sits on the low side of neutral–less than seven. The lower the pH, the sourer the food becomes.
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I like malt vinegar on my fish and chips, then a few grains of salt. My guacamole always gets some lime. And why is that? Well, as much as I like avocados, on their own they need help, both on the salty side as well as the sour side of things. I like sour cream on my baked potatoes, and I’ve been using low-fat sour cream as a replacement for any butter.
Sour Adds Balance
The taste of sour adds balance. Perhaps that’s why I like salt and vinegar potato chips. It’s a great combination. Same as why I add a little salt to my grapefruit … when I eat it, which is rare. I love grapefruit, but I’m supposed to avoid it. Sour notes can cut through richness in sauces and dairy products. I make a seafood linguini with an alfredo sauce, and depending on which calorie version I make, I might need to add an acidic component to it.
And vinegars. Wow! So many different kinds. I’m sure I have five or six in the pantry, and I use them all the time. Most things I grill I marinate. Rarely do I come up with a marinade that doesn’t include some source of sour. We’ll eventually get to marinades, but they are a terrific example of when and how to combine the five tastes.
Take notice that some of the sour items in today’s list were on the sweet list in my last post. I think this primarily applies to fruit, as you and I both know that an orange can be both.
Until next time …
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