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What makes sour sweets sour?

By Andrew Grant July 28, 2020 0 comments

What makes sour sweets sour?

The sweet industry sells over 5 million pounds every year in the U.S alone and a large number of sweet lovers are drawn to the super-sour, super-sweet, super-sting taste sensation that is derived from sour sweets. 

The sourness in sour sweets range from a sour-sweet-taste in Sour Patch Kids to the stronger sourness in Toxic Waste. But what makes sour sweets sour? Why are they infamous for their mouth-puckering taste?

  1. Sour Sanding Coating

Sour sanding or sour sugar is made from citric/tartaric acid and sugar. It is used to coat sour candies such as Sour Patch Kids or to make hard candies taste tart. It’s main use in sour sweets is to impart a sour flavour.
To increase sourness, manufacturers coat the outer surface of the sweets with acid or acid-containing blends. But the trick is to carefully select an acid mixture that can provide the perfect level of sourness.
  1. The acids they contain

The degree of sourness in any sour sweet boils down to the acid used to make it. Each of the acid used gives a distinct tart flavour that is craved by sour sweet lovers. Here are four acids that can be found in sour sweets.

  • Malic Acid

Malic acid is a natural sour compound found in green apples and cherries. This organic super sour acid is responsible for the extreme flavour and intensity of sour sweets like the notorious Warhead.

  • Fumaric Acid

This acid is the strongest and most sour-tasting acid of the organic acids. Because it doesn’t dissolve easily, it is used to create a long-lasting sour flavour.

  • Citric Acid

This acid comes from lemons, grapefruits and other citric fruits. It is one of the most common acids in sour sweets and it provides the tart flavour that makes sour candy so great. Toxic Waste is loaded with citric acid.

  • Tartaric Acid

This acid is more astringent than citric and malic acid. They occur in many fruits like grapes, bananas, tamarinds and citrus. Sour Patch Kids contains tartaric acid and citric acid, full of protons which our tongues register as sour.

 

  1. pH level

Another reason why sour sweets is so sour is because of their pH levels. Sourness is the taste that allows us to detect acidity. Acidity is determined by pH levels. Our taste buds react to sour sweets because of its pH level. The acidity of the average sour sweet is around 3 to 2.5 of the pH scale which is quite close to the acidity of a battery acid. Each whole pH value below 7 is 10 times more acidic than the next higher value and each pH value above 7 is 10 times less acidic than the one below it. So, a strong acid may have a pH of 1-2.
Brain Blasterz sour candy contains an acidity level of 2.5 and most people are not prepared for the deliciously insane sourness that is unleashed once you pop it in your mouth. But the good thing about sour sweets is that the sourness is short-lived. Basically 30-55 secs. If you can endure the tartness for a bit, you will be rewarded with a better taste, depending on the flavour.

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