Citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid and ascorbic acid

Citric acid

Found as a dry powder, used in foods to increase the acidic mouth feel. It is also used within beverages and food as a preservative and flavouring or to replace lemon/ lime in recipes. For example, the acid is used in salt and vinegar crisps to bring out the flavour of the vinegar. You may also see it in packaged foods classed as an e-number E330 or in products to regulate the PH. It can also act as a stabilizer in ice creams to prevent fats from separating or in cleaning products such as bath salts and soaps.

 

Malic acid

A natural tartness derived from the acid produced by the apple and other fruits. The acid is very present when the fruit is not ripe and as the fruit ripens the malic acid decreases. The natural acid can be used to improve skin health and general well-being. On product labels when malic acid is present its e-number is E296. It can be used in extreme sour sweets as it is more sour than citric acid.

 

Tartaric acid

A formation of salt and potassium bitartrate is also known more commonly as cream of tartare. It is mainly found in grapes, bananas and tamarind. It contributes a strong tart taste which enhances fruit flavours, particularly grape and lime. Major wine countries such as France, Italy and Germany use the acid to enhance the fruit flavour. The tartare is used in baking as a stabiliser in meringue as in high temperatures it will become soluble and aid in maximum development of volume. When mixed with bicarbonate of soda a reaction occurs and carbon dioxide is released, thus making a cake rise. When a small amount is used its tart flavour can not be sensed. You can also add the powder version to jams to activate the pectin (a natural substance in berries which aids in jam thickening).

 

Ascorbic acid

Also known as vitamin C, a naturally occurring substance found in many fruit and vegetables including broccoli, oranges, berries, kiwi… Other than the obvious health benefits of Vitamin C its used in cooking to prevent fruits going brown, for example mixing apples in the powder to prevent oxidisation can aid in perfecting shapes in tarts. As foods are cooked vitamin C is decreased as well as when vegetables are bought pre cut or kept for too long. To prevent this, eat fruit/ vegetables when bought and blanche vegetables in steamers to decrease loss of vitamins.

 

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