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Sour recipes include foods that taste tangy. Sourness is a basic taste that detects acids in our food. Sour taste is a part of the aversive taste family and considered pleasant only when consumed in limited amounts. Sourness in food is caused mainly by the presence of various acids in the food and like bitterness it is helpful in preventing the ingestion of toxic or harmful substances. The sides of the tongue are most sensitive to sour taste. According to some surveys, the acceptability of sour taste reduces as a person ages. Also, toddlers and young kids are believed to enjoy sour food the most. Most raw fruits, citrus fruits, and fermented foods have a distinctly sour taste. Sour candy, sour cream, pickles, and vinegar are popular sour recipes.

History and Culinary Significance of Sour Recipes

According to the evolutionary theory, the mechanism for detecting sour taste was developed to prevent consumption of toxic and/or spoilt foods. However, this sour taste is much stronger and aversive than the mild and pleasant sourness of commonly consumed sour dishes.

Though, sour dishes like fruits and certain vegetables have been consumed from prehistoric era, methods for preparing sour recipes like vinegar, yogurt, pickles, etc. were developed only after the discovery of fermentation as a means of food processing. The first recorded data of yeast fermentation is found in the 4000 yrs old Sumerian hymn, "Hymn to Ninkasi,” which explains the beer making process. Bacteria fermentation process was discovered around the same timeline by the nomadic tribes of Middle Eastern Asia.

Sour recipes and sour dishes Kimchee (Thai Cuisine), Sauerkraut (Western), and Achaar (Indian) have played an important role in giving character to their respective cuisine types.

Popular Types of Sour Recipes

Though, classified as an aversive taste, a mild sour taste (described as tangy) helps in enhancing the taste of the dish and making sour recipes more desirable. Owing to this property of sourness, sour recipes can be found in many different classes of foods, including accompaniments, snacks, drinks & beverages, main courses, and even certain dessert recipes.

· Accompaniments: Condiments are the best example of sour recipes. Dishes like pickles, sauces, chutneys, salad dressings, and many other condiments are predominantly sour. Also, sour cream, crème fraiche, certain marmalade, and vegemite are the other popularly consumed sour accompaniments.

· Snacks: Several snacks and breakfast items taste better with a hint of sourness. Fermented snacks like stinky tofu, salami, hot & sour nuggets, Chaats (Indian street Food) are some popular sour snacks.

· Drinks & beverages: Lemonade is probably the most popular sour drink. Other than that, kefir, buttermilk, cultured milk, Citrus fruit juices, etc., have a characteristic sour taste.

· Desserts: Desserts are rarely predominantly sour. However, a few sour based desserts do exist, sour candies, lemon pie, crème fraiche are a few such examples.

Popular Sour Recipes from Around the World

· Mexican: Mango Salsa, Tangy Sangria, Ceviche, tamarind margarita, and green tomato salsa are some famously sour dishes from Mexico

· Indian: India is a treasure trove of sour dishes; raw mango chutney, tamarind rassam, sol kadhi, raita, and lemon rice are just a few examples.

· Chinese: Sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken, citrus shrimps, Hot & Sour dishes, are all sour Chinese recipes.

Health Implications of Sour Dishes

Many Sour foods, like citrus fruits, raw mango, tomatoes, and Indian gooseberry are rich sources of Vitamin C. Sour dairy products like yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, etc. are rich in probiotics required for maintaining gut health.

Moreover, sour recipes are believed to improve salivation and other digestive process, and enhance immunity. However, excess sour food consumption can at times aggravates symptoms of Acid reflux disorder, gastritis, and also trigger migraines. Sour Dishes: Trivia:

Eating miracle fruit, a tropical red fruit from Africa, temporarily suppresses the sour taste buds of our tongue and all sour foods start to taste sweet.