Acidulants are additives that give a sharp taste to foods. Acidulants are acids used in processed foods for a variety of functions that enhance the food. They also assist in the setting of gels and to act as preservatives.Many natural foods are acidic.
For example oranges, lemons, apples, tomatoes, cheese and yoghurt contain natural acids, such as citric acid, that give them their characteristically sharp taste.
Acids are used as flavoring agents, preservativesin microbial control, chelating agents, buffers, gelling andcoagulating agents, and in many other ways.
Examples of these functions are:
Acids and Applications in Food
- Flavoring agent - Contributes and enhances flavor in carbonated beverages, fruit drinks, and desserts.
- Preservative - An acid medium restricts the growth of spoilage organisms in mayonnaise and tomato sauce, and retards the activity of enzymes involved in discoloration in fruits.
- Chelating agent - Aids in binding metals that can cause oxidation in fats and oils, and discoloration in canned shrimp
- Buffer - Maintains and controls acidity during processing, and maintains acidity within a given range in prepared desserts.
- Gelling agent - Controls the gelling mechanism of algin and pectin gels such as desserts and jams.
- Coagulating agent - Reduction of pH results in coagulation of milk protein which is used in the preparation of direct acidified cheese and desserts.
Most widely used organic acid is citric acid. It is used in food products, drinks and the pharmaceutical industry. Each year about 320,000 tonnes of citric acid is used in the production of foods and beverages.
The list below shows some common acidulants.
- Acetic acid
- Citric acid
- Fumaric acid
- Lactic acid
- Malic acid
- Phosphoric acid
- Tartaric acid