Do you want to broaden and add some acid to your diet but are not sure what products are the best? Do not worry; in this article, we will give you a list of 25 sour foods that will not only diversify your diet but also provide many health benefits. Let’s get started!
- Umeboshi plums
- Emmental cheese
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
- Sourdough bread
- Amchur (Dried mango powder)
- Sour salt
Now that you know the names of the sourest foods, let’s dive into them and describe what they are, how they are used in cooking, and what health benefits their sour taste can provide.
Lemon originated in northeast India but is now also found in the Mediterranean area (Italy, Greece, Spain, Israel) and in places with the Mediterranean climate, including the USA (California, Arizona, and Florida). Lemon has a tart and sour flavor that stimulates appetite and enriches the flavor of the dish it is served with. Lemon is a versatile ingredient in cooking – it enhances the flavor of soups, main courses, salad dressings, appetizers, desserts, and cocktails. Lemon is often added to sandwiches, fish dishes, and even drinks. Lemon goes well with fruits and vegetables – the ascorbic acid in lemon prevents fruits and vegetables (apples, avocado, etc.) from browning.
Lemon juice is often used for marinades, sauces, baked goods, meat and fish dishes, vegetables, and fruits. Lemon zest is more commonly used for desserts as it gives a pleasantly tart flavor and a rich citrusy aroma. Lemon also goes well with sugar and is often served with tea and coffee. Lemon goes well with honey, chocolate, and even wine. Lemon is often added to alcoholic beverages – cognac, tequila, whiskey sour, Margarita, etc.
Lemon boasts of many health benefits, namely:
- Strengthens immunity
- Slows down aging processes
- Removes toxins and cholesterol
- Stabilizes hormone levels
- Improves digestion
- Improves skin color
- Reduces the chances of a stroke
- Regulates the sebaceous glands
Lime originates from Southeast Asia but is now grown in Turkey, Mexico, India, Brazil, Cuba, and Argentina. Lime has a long history – it is older than orange and lemon, and was introduced to Europe over 1,000 years ago. Like lemon, limes were popular among seamen as they were the only vitamin source to prevent scurvy.
Lime has a somewhat bitter and sour flavor and is used in cooking similar to lemons. Lime pulp is soft and juicy and has a more pronounced tart taste compared to lemons. As for the smell, limes are more subtle and delicate. The thinner lime’s skin, the juicier it is, so when choosing limes in the shop, pay attention to the texture of the skin and the color (should be light green or greenish-yellow).
Like lemons, limes make food more exotic and bold. Limes are very popular in the cuisines of Eastern Asian countries but are now spreading their influence to Europe and the USA. Lime juice is used to marinate fish, and it goes well with other seafood like shrimps and scallops. In Iran, lime powder is added to rice dishes to make them more flavourful. In Thailand, limes are added to almost every dish – soups, rice, vegetable, and seafood stew.
Like lemons, lime is an inalienable part of cocktails and refreshing drinks, fruit salads, and sour sauces and marinades. Both lime juice and zest can be used in cooking. Ground limes are used to make spices in Iran and India. Fresh lime slices are used to decorate alcoholic drinks (cognac, liqueur).
Lime goes well with fruits, especially peach, apple, pear, and apricot, and is often sprinkled on vegetable and seafood salads to make them more refreshing. Unfortunately, limes lose up to 70% of all nutrients during heat treatment, so it is better to eat lime fresh. If it is too sour, just sprinkle some sugar on it.
The orange tree was first cultivated in 2300 BC in China. First, it was a small tree with sharp thorns and inedible sour and bitter fruits. Now oranges are grown in India, China, Europe, the Middle East, and South and North America. In the USA, oranges are mainly grown in California and Florida. Currently, there are over 300 orange tree varieties, and the most popular are Valencia, Navel, and Clementine.
Not oranges are sour and tart. Depending on the variety, oranges can be very sour, tart, slightly sweet, or too sweet with slight sour notes. Oranges are very juicy and refreshing, which is why they are often used to make second dishes, desserts, smoothies, juice, and cocktails. Oranges go well with fish, shrimp, chicken, turkey, and duck. Oranges also go well with nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), berries, muffins, pies, biscuits, ginger, and cinnamon.
Orange zest is often used to make jam and rich pastries. In Europe, particularly in France, candied orange peels are often given to children as a dessert. Oranges are now used pretty much all over the world, and not just for desserts! In addition to jam, marmalade, and juice, oranges are added to mulled wine and tea. Oranges also go well with poultry and meat – oranges make the meat tender, juicy, aromatic, and flavorful.
In Japan, oranges are often added to seafood dishes – oranges go particularly well with scallops, crabs, and prawns. In Italy, oranges are added to pasta and risotto sauces.
Pomelo (often called a Chinese grapefruit) is a giant fruit with green-yellow skin, juicy sweet and sour pulp, and plenty of health benefits. Pomelo is not the most popular citrus fruit in the USA, so it can be hard to find in a local food shop. On the other hand, in China, pomelo is widely used in cooking and is even a good New Year gift! Now pomelo is cultivated in Israel, Japan, India, Thailand, and the USA (California, Florida).
Pomelo’s taste depends on the variety. The fruit can be very sour, slightly sweet, or very sweet, just like oranges. Those who have tried pomelo say it tastes slightly sour with pleasant notes of sweetness. Pomelo also has hints of strawberry and pear. Pomelo has a pleasant rich aroma reminiscent of grapefruit.
In cooking, pomelo is added to fruit and vegetable salads, meat and fish dishes, sauces, and marinades. Pomelo is also used to make jams and marmalade, cocktails, and smoothies. Just like limes and oranges, pomelo is added to rich pastries and desserts. A slightly sour taste of pomelo goes well with fish and meat, but you can also eat pomelo as is or add a bit of sugar or honey to enjoy with tea or coffee.
The grapefruit flavor is similar to orange, but it is more sour and tart. Grapefruit also has some bitter notes and is juicier than oranges. When buying grapefruits, opt for the big and soft-skin ones as they tend to be juicier. Grapefruits dry out pretty quickly, so we recommend you eat them as soon as possible to enjoy their sour flavor with bittersweet notes.
Grapefruits are most often eaten as is – slice grapefruit and sprinkle some sugar on it if you want to hide its sourness. Grapefruits are often used to make jam, juice, smoothies, cocktails, liqueurs, and even wine. Grapefruits are often added to fruit salads – grapefruit’s exotic sour and slightly bitter flavor complements the taste of other fruits (grapefruit goes best with banana, lime, orange, lemon, raspberry, and strawberry).
Like oranges and limes, grapefruits are added to meat, poultry, and fish dishes as well as rice and pasta. Grapefruit juice can be a great marinade for meat and fish (salmon, perch, sea bass, or dorado). We recommend adding grapefruit to your diet as it improves metabolism, reduces cholesterol levels, and facilitates digestion.
Who doesn’t like pineapples? Not only is it a real storehouse of vitamins and mineral elements, but it is also extremely delicious! Pineapples are exotic, juicy (they contain 86% of water), and slightly jammy. Pineapples have a distinct citrusy sweet flavor with sour notes.
Pineapples are versatile and can be eaten in many ways. You can eat fresh or canned pineapple, drink pineapple juice or use it for smoothies and refreshing drinks. Interestingly enough, sweet pineapples can be used not only as a dessert but as a main dish ingredient. Pineapples can be dried, grilled, canned, or even frozen for later.
Pineapples go well with meat (pork, turkey, chicken, ham), semi-hard cheese, rice, seafood (prawns, crab, lobster), vegetables (pepper, potatoes, cabbage), and fruits (bananas, peach, mandarines, etc.)
Pineapples are also used to make mousses, jam, and jelly, added to pastries (muffins, cakes, biscuits), and drinks. Pineapples are also used to make sour and sweet sauces (common in Asian cuisines).
Currants are known for their sour taste and juicy texture. Currants are often used in cooking as they make the dish more exotic, refreshing, and bold. Currants are an indispensable source of vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, so regular currants consumption boosts your immunity, and metabolism and improves digestion.
Currants are used when making desserts, sweet sauces, jam, marmalade, ice cream, smoothies, and pastries. Thanks to their sour taste, currants go well with meat and poultry dishes. Currants are sometimes added to soups and fruit and vegetable salads to enhance the flavor of other ingredients.
Gooseberries are tart and sour, so they are most often used to make jams, jelly, and wine. Gooseberries are flavorful and have a pleasant refreshing aroma. Like currants, gooseberries contain a lot of vitamin C, so they are a good choice during winter when it is easy to catch a cold.
Gooseberries can be eaten as is, but they can also be boiled, baked, or used for sauces and gravy. In France, gooseberries are used to make sauces for meat dishes (mostly steaks). Gooseberries are also good for making marmalade, jam, jelly, and syrups. Gooseberry juice is good if you like sour, refreshing drinks.
Gooseberries also go well with veal, duck, and chicken – the tart flavor makes the meat tender and juicy. Like currants, gooseberries are often added to fruit and vegetable salads. They can also be used to make desserts to add some sour notes to the dish. Gooseberries are often frozen, so you can enjoy fresh berries no matter the season.
Umeboshi plums (apricots)
Okay, everyone has tried apricots, but what about Umeboshi apricots? They are pickled or dried and have a distinct sour and tart flavor. Umeboshi plums have a high content of citric acid, so no wonder why they are on our list of sour foods. Japanese apricots are often eaten as it or added to rice to enhance the flavor. Umeboshi plums are not the most popular dish in the US, but if you are ever in Japan, we highly recommend you to try this delicacy. Like other sour foods with a high citric and manic acid content, Umeboshi plums are good for digestion and boosting immunity.
Apricots are tasty, healthy, and affordable. Apricots are sweet with sour notes, juicy, and delicate. Apricots are often eaten as it, but they can also be dried, and used to make jam, marmalade, jelly, sweet and sour sauces for meat dishes. Apricots are highly nutritious and have a refreshing, bold flavor and a delicate, exquisite texture.
Apricots are also used to make juices, syrups, and smoothies. Dried apricots are added to spices, and fresh apricots are sometimes used in meat and vegetable dishes (the juicy texture makes meat and vegetables tender and flavorful). Of course, apricots go well with other fruits (bananas, pear, strawberries), and are often added to pastries.
Aromatic peaches are used to make alcoholic drinks and cocktails. Peaches are often used to make oriental sweets (sherbet, halva, Turkish delight).
Vinegar (a mixture of food acid and water in a certain concentration) is an indispensable ingredient of many dishes, from meat to pies. Vinegar has a more than 5,000-year history! It was used in Ancient Egypt, Roman Empire, and Judah. Vinegar was used to treat digestion problems, headaches, and dizziness, and to kill parasites. Now vinegar is actively used in cooking – it is added to vegetable and meat salads, spices and sauces, mayonnaise, and tomato sauces. Vinegar is also added to soups, fish, and meat marinades to make them more flavorful. Vinegar is sometimes added to the dough to remove excess sweetness and make the dough more airy and delicate.
Yogurt is most often eaten as is or added to desserts. High-quality yogurts have a high content of vitamin C, so unsweetened yogurt has a subtle sour flavor. Natural yogurt has a sour-milk taste, delicate and creamy texture. Yogurt is most often eaten with fruit and berries (banana, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, etc.). Unsweetened yogurt is a great dressing for vegetable salads. Yogurt can also be added to pastries or when making dough. Yogurt is used to make sauces, pancakes, muffins, crepes, and omelets.
Kefir is another indispensable element of our sour food list. It is used from milk that undergoes alcoholic and lactic fermentation. Kefir has a sour flavor and a creamy texture and contains calcium and magnesium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and potassium. Kefir facilitates digestion and improves metabolism, and is a great source of protein.
Kefir has a tart, slightly spicy yeasty taste. Like yogurt, kefir goes well with berries and fruits (we think bananas work the best as their sweet taste balances kefir’s spiciness and tartness). Kefir can also be used as a dressing for fruit and vegetable salads. It is often used in cold soups and meat and vegetable stews. Kefir is also a great marinade for meat – it makes the meat tender and juicy, making it crispy and nice. Kefir is also added to the dough to make it airy and delicate.
Emmental cheese has a slightly sour, spicy flavor, so if you were looking for a sour food list and love cheese, opt for Emmental! Emmental, like any cheese, can be eaten as is, put on toasts and sandwiches, added to pizza, salads, or used to make cheese-based sauces and soups. Even though Emmental cheese has distinct acidic notes, it also has a creamy, buttery texture and a pleasant creamy aroma. It has excellent melting properties, so it is just perfect for fondue or mac and cheese.
Kombucha is a fermented sweet and sour fizzy drink coming from China. It has gained popularity thanks to its components (tea, sugar, yeast, and bacteria), unusual taste, and, of course, health benefits. If you want to add sour products to your diet, you do not have to eat lemons, gooseberries, or even yogurt, you can just enjoy this delicious and nutritious Chinese drink. Kombucha maintains a healthy intestinal microflora and is a healthy alternative to sugary fizzy drinks. Kombucha is thought to prevent wrinkles and maintain a healthy skin color. We strongly recommend you cut on your Coke or Fanta consumption and instead go for sweet and sour Kombucha.
Sour cream is … sour! It is made from a cream fermented with lactic acid bacteria. Sour cream has different fat content, from 10% to 48%, which slightly changes the taste of sour cream. The fatter it is, the creamier and delicate the taste. Sour cream contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and PP, so adding a few spoons of sour cream into your diet will facilitate digestion, improve metabolism, and strengthen teeth and bones.
Sour cream is used as a dressing for fruit and vegetable salads and to stew meat, fish, and vegetables. Sour cream is often added to desserts and cream. Sour cream is the most popular mayonnaise alternative as it has more health benefits and fewer calories. Sour cream can also be used to make gravy and sauces.
Sour cream goes well with other dairy products like cottage cheese, cheese, but it also goes well with parsley, mashed or baked potatoes. Sour cream can be added to soups, fish, and meat dishes.
Cottage cheese has a pleasant sour creamy flavor which is common for all fermented dairy products. Cottage cheese can be eaten as is (you can add sour cream or yogurt with fruit and berries to make it more flavorful). Cottage cheese is used to make pancakes and dumplings. Cottage cheese goes well with honey, nuts, cream, and sour cream. Cottage cheese is often used to make pies and buns and it goes well with sweet sauces.
When buying cottage cheese, ensure it is fresh, as old cottage cheese becomes too sour and bitter and loses its health benefits. Alternatively, you can make cottage cheese at home.
If you like cabbage, you will absolutely adore Korean kimchi. It is made of fermented Chinese cabbage in spicy sauce. Kimchi has a very rich sour and spicy flavor and a distinct garlicky aroma. To make Kimchi, you need to slice Chinese cabbage, carrots, radish, and garlic and let them ferment for a few days. The longer the fermentation process, the more sour and spicy the dish will be. We recommend trying Kimchi with meat steaks and mashed potatoes. Yum!
Tamarind is an evergreen tree of the legume family that grows in areas with a tropical climate. Tamarind has a complex sweet and sour taste with citrus and caramel notes. Those who have tried tamarind say it tastes like a mixture of lemon, date, and apricot. But how do you use tamarind?
You can eat tamarind as is or turn it into a paste and add it to noodle and pasta dishes, curry, sauces, and even desserts. Tamarind can also be dried or candied. Tamarind is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. For example, in India, tamarind is often added to the traditional spicy lentil and vegetable soup. In Thailand, tamarind is added to rice noodles with vegetables and spicy sauces. In England, tamarind is added to Worcestershire sauce.
Tamarind also goes well with vegetables, pasta, rice, seafood, fish, and meat. Tamarind can be added to spices and even drinks to give them some extra sour notes. To preserve all the tamarind health benefits, it is better to eat fresh tamarind as is.
Sauerkraut is a well-known German traditional dish made of cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is similar to Korean kimchi. Sauerkraut has a rich sour flavor, soft and juicy texture. If you like finely chopped cabbage and want to add sour food to your diet, Saurkraut is your best go-to. Add some carrots, garlic, black pepper, and salt to enhance the flavor of the dish.
Sauerkraut goes well with mashed potatoes, meat, and poultry, but it can also be eaten as is.
Since sourdough starters contain natural acid (yeast and bacteria), sourdough bread acquires a tangy, tart, and sour flavor. Sourdough bread is delicious, healthy, and has a soft, delicate texture and a complex yeasty aroma. Sourdough bread can be eaten just like normal bread – use it to make sandwiches and toasts. Sourdough bread goes well with avocado, salmon, cream cheese, soft and semi-hard cheeses, roast pork, pickled cucumbers, eggs, tomatoes, butter, peanut butter, hummus, honey, jam, and jelly.
Amchur (Dried mango powder)
Amchur, or dried mango powder, is a spice made of unripe mangos. It has a deep sour taste and a sweet fruity aroma. This spice comes from North India, but it is exported all over the world. To make 1 kg of Amchur, you need to use 24 kg of mangos, so it is not the most affordable spice. According to Walmart and Amazon, 200 g of Amchur costs $7.00.
Amchur is a great lemon alternative and is used to add a sour and tart flavor to dishes. Amchur is often added to soups, rice, pasta, fried vegetables, and legumes. Amchur is often used in meat sauces and marinades – with this spice, the meat becomes not only slightly sour but also acquires a tender and juicy texture.
Interestingly enough, Amchur goes well with desserts. It is often added to creams and is used as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg alternative. Amchur balances the rich sweet flavor of juices, syrups, and dough. It is better to add Amchur just before finishing cooking to preserve its sour flavor and health benefits.
Sour salt is made of acidic citrus fruits and is used in cooking to add a tart and sour taste to the dishes. Sour salt is most often made of dried lemon or lime and is used to make sauces, homemade mayonnaise, and tomato sauce. It is also added when making jams and pickling vegetables. Sour salt is often added to marinades and dough to make it airy and porous.
Tomatoes are great examples of sour foods that must be added to your diet. Tomato taste varies from tart and sour to sweet and juicy. Tomatoes are used in every cuisine of the world – to make sauces, soups (Gaspacho), enchilada, and vegetable salads. Tomatoes are added to pasta, risotto, pizza, meat, and fish dishes.
Rhubarb has a deep sour taste and is often added to various sauces (chutney), salads, fish, and meat dishes. Rhubarb is sometimes added to pastries (pies, cakes). Rhubarb is also used to make jams, jellies, cream-based desserts, and even ice cream. Rhubarb gives dishes a refreshing tart flavor and has a sharp, fruity aroma. Rhubarb has a high content of vitamin C and K, so it is a good choice to boost your immunity and add new sour foods to your diet!
Now that you know all the best sour foods to broaden your diet, it is time to go to the shop and stock up on them! If you add some of these foods to your diet, you will enjoy not only their unique tart and sour flavor and rich aroma but also the immense health benefits, including strengthening your immunity and preventing avitaminosis.