Sourness: a taste that divides a crowd. I for one have always been a fan of foods with sour taste profiles. In fact, I'd like to think that my years spent sneaking to corner shops after school to fill my pockets with tangfastics and McCoys salt and vinegar crisps, have helped to develop my palate today.
While sharp tasting foods are often considered to be an acquired taste, many cuisines around the world prize sour foods for their refreshingly sharp flavour and ability to dispell oilyness and arouse the appetite.
Kimchi, Kraut and Booch
The recent ascendance of sour goods on the food scene suggests our palettes may be swaying in a more tart direction. It seems more and more of us are taking up a spot of DIY fermentation; creating gut-friendly edibles from kimchi and sauerkraut to home-brewed kombucha (booch for short). A word of advice: if fermenting is a habit you're yet to take up, make sure you befriend someone who has. Feast Box's very own marketing wizzard come fermenting expert George, treats us from time to time with a homemade crusty sourdough. Life changing stuff. But aside from the growing popularity of fermented goods, another way in which our taste for sourness has developed is due to the rising accesibility and knowledge of global cuisines. Mouth-puckering delicacies have been adored for centuries in cuisines across the globe. The Chinese were particularly ahead of the game. They've been brewing vinegar for some 3000 years.
Here are some of the world's tastiest sour delicacies:
With a long history of floods, droughts and famines, pickles represent an important part of Chinese cuisine. Pickled food such as cabbage, eggs, lettuce hearts, cucumbers, radishes, and bamboo shoots are made by submerging and fermenting fruits and vegetables in salt or brine. Pickles are traditionally fermented in attractive pickle crocks (as shown below) and usually given as wedding gifts. They're also commonly consumed as a crunchy palate cleanser. Pickle crock pots are nifty inventions. If you look carefully, you'll notice that a water moat is formed around the lid. This means the air is prevented from entering the crock and carbon dioxide gases created during fermentation easily bubble out.
Umeboshi (pronounced oo-meh-boh-shee) is a salt-preserved sour plum. The ume fruit is a close relation to plums and apricots. It contains as much as 3 times a lemon’s citric acid, making it more acidic than any other fruit. The salt-preservation process is what creates the lip-pouting sourness. Umeboshis are a popular side dish and delicacy at Japanese dining tables, as well as being used in cocktails and wrapped inside onigiri
Tamarind is a sour fruit that grows on tamarind trees (surprise surprise), inside a pod. You’re likely to find tamarind in a paste form (which is how we send it to you in Feast Boxes). Tasting a little bit like a sour date, tamarind is often referred to as the Indian date. India is the world’s largest producer of tamarind today. Tamarind can be both sour and sweet, it’s often added to savoury cooking to impart a subtle sweetness to dishes. Try using tamarind in anything from chutneys to desserts. Tamarind is also a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.