Citric acid, an organic acid, is commonly available in powdered form. Any fruit which is sour in taste would contain high amounts of citric acid, be it fruits like mangoes and pineapples. It is also found naturally in citrus fruits, especially fruits like lemon and oranges. Several types of berries like blackberries and raspberries also contain high amounts of citric acid.
Depending on the climatic and soil conditions, the amount of citric acid in fruits and vegetables vary. One of the most common citric acid use is for preserving foods. It is also added to provide a sour and acidic taste to food and drinks. It can easily mix with water thereby, making it acidic.
Uses of Citric Acid
Citric acid has a number of uses and is most commonly used as a food additive and a flavoring agent. It is used to flavor and preserve food and beverages. It is also used to make certain varieties of candies due to its sour taste. While buying sour candies, we often find them being covered with a white powder, which is nothing but citric acid. Some brands of ice cream use citric acid, as it acts as an emulsifier and helps in keeping fat globules away.
It is used in canning fruits like apples, apricots, pears, and peaches. It is specially useful in canning of low acidic fruits. It raises the pH level which is really helpful in stopping Botulism from occurring in the canned products. Using citric acid during canning is very essential as Botulism is a deadly organism. There are several jams and fruit preserves where citric acid is used, besides in concentrates and stock cubes.
It has the capacity to break down proteins available in meats and as such is mixed with meat to make it soft and tender. Moreover, it is also used during the manufacturing process of cheese, as it helps in clotting milk faster. It is also used in the production of sourdough breads like rye bread.
In the wine-making process, if the fruits do not contain high citric acid content, it is artificially added so as to make it sour. Such a process is mostly used to produce inexpensive wines.
Today, it is also used in making beauty products and is mixed with sodium bicarbonate to make bath tablets and bath fizzes. Moreover, they are also used in some lotions and skin masks. It acts as an antioxidant which helps in refreshing skin, thereby, preventing the skin from sagging and making you look old. In addition to that, it has properties to destroy free radicals and promote skin growth.
However, you need to make sure that you are not exposed to too much citric acid, as it may cause irritation of the skin. If your skin is sensitive or if you are suffering from citric acid intolerance, it's better not to use products with high citric content.
Moreover, it is also used along with shampoo to wash coloring agents from hair. However, if you think of using citric acid for washing hair, make sure that you use very small quantities, as it may be harmful for hair if used in large quantities.
One of the common uses is in preparation of kitchen and bathroom cleaning agents. If you don't want to scrub glass to remove water stains, you can opt to use a solution of citric acid and just wipe it, the stain would clear immediately.
Industrial uses of citric acids are many and it is mainly used in algicides, animal feed, circuit boards, enhanced oil recovery, fertilizer micronutrients, pet food, etc. It is hard to picture but apart from kitchens it is also used in industries such as paint, paper, pharmaceuticals, textiles, etc.
Thus, citric acid has been used for a very long time, especially to preserve food items. If your stomach is sensitive to citric acid, you should avoid consuming foods rich in it.