Most people have heard the expression “sour as a lemon” at one point or another. Although lemons are the fruits that come to mind for most people when they think of sour, they’re far from the only face-puckering foods out there.
Limes are also pretty sour. When you compare lemons and limes with other fruits, which are typically sweet or tart, this makes them quite different.
So why are lemons and limes sour? We’ll be exploring that question in this post.
Quick Answer: Why are Lemons and Limes Sour?
In short, lemons and limes are sour because they both have citric acid in them. The reason why many consider limes to be slightly less sour is because they have less citric acid.
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What is Citric Acid?
If someone were to tell you that there was any kind of acid in your food, you might be reluctant to eat it. In truth, citric acid isn’t something to be afraid of.
Citric acid is a weak organic acid. That means it won’t harm you if you consume it.
It has a variety of uses, aside from appearing naturally in some foods. Sometimes, it’s used in cleaning products or to treat water.
Also Read: Why are Lemons More Expensive than Limes?
Citric acid is also used in some cosmetic creams and gels. It even appears in many skin peels and shampoos.
In other words, in small amounts, citric acid is perfectly safe. Although it can sound intimidating at first, you can go on safely eating both lemons and limes.
Read Also: What are the Juiciest Lemons?
Other Foods with Citric Acid in Them
Although lemons and limes are most well-known as sources of citric acid, they’re not the only foods containing it.
Aside from lemons and limes, you might find citric acid used as a flavoring in candies and carbonated drinks. Anything that has a lemon or lime flavor probably uses citric acid in it to give it that punch of sourness.
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Caramel occasionally has citric acid in to help prevent crystallization. (Not that you’re likely to taste a hint of lime in caramel the next time you have any!)
In some places, powdered citric acid is even sold and marketed as sour salt. That’s due to the fact it closely resembles table salt.
Related Article: Why are Lemons more Popular than Limes?
The next time you taste a bit of lemon or lime and feel your face pucker, you’ll know why: citric acid. Although you might feel inclined to shy away from anything with the word “acid” in it, citric acid is harmless in the small doses found in the foods we eat and the products we use.
If you’re looking for some more information on lemons and limes, be sure to check out our post about why lemons are more expensive than limes.