For those who like their candy intensely tart, take your homemade candy from boring to biting with acids! No, we’re not talking the psychedelic-type, but even these natural food acids work with your brain chemistry. Intrigued? Join us on our (fruit) acid trip to discover the secrets to adding sour power to sweets.
Found naturally in citrus fruits, citric acid is known for its sharp tang. The acid has hydrogen ions that activate the tongue’s taste receptors which then send a message to your brain to release serotonin. Citric acid is commonly used as an additional coating for hard candies to deliver an immediate sour jolt.
Tartaric acid, found naturally in grapes and other fruit, will add a sharp, bright acidity to your candy. This acid pairs especially well with grape, citrus and banana flavors.
Malic acid was first discovered in apple juice. It enhances fruit flavors and when added in a larger quantity, provides extended sourness. Malic acid pairs well with green apple, apricot, and cherry flavors. It can also mask the taste of artificial sweeteners. If you like your candy sugar-free, but struggle with the after-taste of artificial sweeteners, a little malic acid will do the trick.
Ascorbic acid is also known as vitamin C. This acid has a milder level of tartness that pairs well with citrus flavors. Not only will ascorbic acid enhance the flavor and add a bit of sourness, it will fortify your candy with a dose of vitamin C.
Let’s Make Sour Candy!
Add some serious pucker power to your hard candy or gummies by adding malic, citric, tartaric or ascorbic acid to the cooked mixture. To prevent burning the acid, wait until the cooked sugar syrup is cooled to below 265° F. before adding.
Trying your hand at homemade taffy? During the process of pulling the taffy, slowly work in a small amount of citric acid. You’ll end up with a candy similar to Laffy Taffy.
Looking for a sour punch from start to finish? Try the “sanding” method. After your hard candy is fully set, throw it into a dish of granulated sugar or powdered sugar mixed with citric acid and/or tartaric acid. Brush off the excess. (For an extra-thick coating, place hardened candy over a steaming pot of water just until it gets sticky, then immediately toss candies with the sugar mixture.) Lemon drops are often “sanded” with this type of tart/sweet coating. To make your own, check out this recipe for Sweet & Sour Lemon Candies.
Do you have a favorite super sour technique or recipe? Share them with us in the comment section!