If you have an adventurous palate, you’re probably wondering what the best sour foods are to consume. While they aren’t always the best plain, sour foods can mix up your diet and add some vital nutrients and minerals.
Sour foods like cherries, blueberries, and gooseberries provide antioxidants that promote a healthy immune system and overall health.
While you probably don’t want to bite a lemon, squeezing it into your water can help improve digestion and promote a healthy gut.
Sour foods sometimes get a bad reputation because they are sour, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut them from your diet. This article will cover the top sour foods and what gives them their distinct taste.
What Makes Foods Sour?
Most foods taste sour because of their organic acids, which include malic, acetic, citric, and fumaric acids. For example, candy can have a high level of citric acid, giving it a potent sour taste.
A sour flavor sometimes occurs naturally due to fermentation in foods like yogurt and sour cream. Other times, acidic substances are added to foods to make them sour, like in salad dressings.
Typically, you want to add sour foods sparingly; otherwise, the flavor can be overwhelming and unappealing.
Are Sour Foods Good For You?
Sometimes sour foods can signal a food gone bad; however, it also signifies naturally sour food. Many sour foods offer health benefits and are full of nutrients and minerals vital for a balanced diet.
However, you can probably guess that anything artificially sweetened to taste sour isn’t going to bring any health benefits. Usually, you’ll find sour candies and treats tasty, but they won’t reap the benefits of naturally sour foods.
Finally, you’ll want to be careful consuming an excessive number of sour foods, as the acid can upset your stomach.
The List of 24 Foods That Are Sour
1. Tart Cherries
Tart cherries top the sour foods list with their fire truck red hue and sour pulp. Tart cherries offer several benefits, including decreased inflammation and better sleep due to their potassium, beta-carotene, fiber, and antioxidant content.
In addition, if you have recently engaged in intense exercise, tart cherries can help your body recover. You can also eat tart cherries to help lower cholesterol and improve heart health.
While you eat sweet cherries plain, tart cherries are often pressed into juice and used in baking. For example, tart cherry pie with vanilla ice cream makes for a delicious dessert!
Cranberries are often found on a Thanksgiving dinner table, but you should incorporate them year-round due to their health benefits. If you eat cranberries alone, they have a sour, tart taste, so most people use them in sauces, loaves of bread, juices, and desserts.
Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and K and provide fiber and manganese, which aids in calcium absorption. While cranberry juice tends to be high in sugar, it is beneficial in preventing urinary tract infections.
Cranberries have many benefits due to their antioxidants, including reducing inflammation, preventing certain cancers, lowering blood pressure, and preventing cavities. However, to reap the benefits of cranberries, it’s best to stick to recipes that don’t add sugar, like a healthier version of cranberry sauce.
While there was a time in the early 1900s when gooseberries were banned due to a fungal disease, these days the sour fruit is popular in sauces, pies, drinks, compotes, jams, and chutneys.
Gooseberries are high in antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, and offer health benefits like helping lower blood sugar, protect brain health, prevent certain cancers, promote heart health, and are full of fiber, which helps with digestion.
While gooseberries aren’t the most popular berries, you should find them at your local grocery store and make delicious desserts like a gooseberry crumble.
Kimchi, a traditional Korean dish, has a sour, spicy taste, but the flavor depends on how long it is fermented. Kimchi is typically made with ginger, garlic, chili peppers, vegetables, salt, pepper, and fish sauce.
In addition, you can make kimchi at home or buy it at your local grocery store. You should add kimchi to your diet as it is high in antioxidants and beta-carotene and can help protect you from certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
You’ll enjoy using kimchi (unless you are pregnant) in fried rice or noodle dishes if you are a vegetarian. However, you can also add kimchi to meat and chicken recipes.
5. Green Apples
Green apples are a popular snack, but pack a sour punch to them if you aren’t prepared. While they are similar to red apples, green apples have a more robust sour flavor, and you will appreciate their health benefits.
Green apples are an excellent source of vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants and are low in fat, making them a great part of your daily diet. In addition, green apples are high in antioxidants which are vital in keeping a healthy lifestyle.
You can bite right into a green apple or slice it up with some peanut butter or cheese. You can also use green apples in recipes like warm apple crisp, apple curry, or fresh applesauce.
A sour foods list wouldn’t be complete without lemons, the small yellow fruit that makes anyone’s face scrunch up if they bite into one. The citric acid in lemons has a sour taste that is best used in recipes or squeezed into water.
Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, which can help reduce your heart disease and stroke risk. In addition, the soluble fiber in lemons helps with healthy digestion and can relieve constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
Since lemons contain pectin fiber, you’ll notice you feel full longer when consuming the sour fruit. The healthiest use of lemons is to squeeze them into a glass of water, but they are also delicious in desserts, sauces, salad dressings, and squeezed on fish.
Blueberries are a popular fruit rich in antioxidants and have a sour taste when unripe. Despite their size, blueberries pack a big flavor and offer a juicy punch when you bite them.
Blueberries are one of the best sour foods you can add to your diet as they are full of minerals and vitamins, aid in managing cholesterol, help control blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, and are an excellent source of fiber.
There are countless ways to prepare blueberries, including muffins, pies, cakes, jams, jellies, and over yogurt. Since blueberries are low in calories and fat, you can eat them daily and reap their health benefits. You may want to check our blueberry dump cake.
Starfruit is a tropical fruit with a robust sour taste. Since the fruit resembles a star, as the name suggests, it’s not hard to distinguish it from other fruits on the list. So while you can find star fruit in many places, it’s most popular in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.
While it’s a unique-looking fruit, it’s also highly beneficial to your health. Starfruit contains nutrients like folate, copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and protein. You can eat star fruit raw, add it to a salad, use it as a garnish, or turn them into chips as a keto-friendly snack.
9. Indian Pickle
Indian pickles have several flavors: sour, spicy, and sweet, and they are commonly found in Indian dishes like stews or rice. If you make Indian pickles in the northern part of the country, you’ll use mustard oil, while the southern part uses sesame oil.
Indian pickles also use turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin, all spices that can benefit your health. For example, turmeric can help reduce inflammation, while cumin contains flavonoids, which help neutralize free radicals in your body.
Various recipes use the sour food, including homemade Indian lime pickles.
Kombucha is a popular sour, fizzy drink that can help with digestion and rid your body of certain toxins. The fermented beverage is sweetened black tea containing yeast, sugar, and bacteria.
Kombucha benefits anyone who wants to add more probiotics to their diet and is looking to increase their metabolism and energy levels. You can make Kombucha at home, but you will have no problems finding it at your local store due to its popularity.
You can drink Kombucha daily, but it’s best to limit it to a few ounces once or twice daily. As with most things, moderation is key when drinking Kombucha.
11. Sour Cream
Sour cream gets its distinctive taste due to the added lactic acid, which increases the thickness and tangy flavor.
While sour cream is higher in fat, it may help boost digestion and improve overall health. In addition, the calcium in sour cream helps protect your teeth and bones, and the vitamin B12 aids in preventing a deficiency in the vital nutrient.
It’s best to use sour cream as a topping, like on baked potatoes or in sauces and dips. Sour cream’s high calorie and fat content make it keto-friendly.
Unlike other vegetables, rhubarb has a sour and sweet taste and is often mistaken for a fruit. Most people don’t eat rhubarb raw because of its sourness; instead, it’s used in stews and pies, or you can dip it in sugar.
Rhubarb is an excellent source of vitamin K1, is low in calories, and is a good source of fiber, but it doesn’t offer many other nutrients. However, it would help if you ate the stalks to reap the fiber benefits, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
Kumquats are a small, orange fruit with overpowering sour juice; however, it has a sweet edible skin; while kumquats are citrus fruits, they do not taste the same as oranges.
Unlike oranges, you can eat kumquat seeds or throw them out, depending on your preference. For example, you can use kumquats to make jams, jellies, and chutney or use it in soup. In fact, if you want to tone down the sourness, making soup is an excellent use of kumquats.
The prime time for kumquats is between November and March; you should always opt for ripe ones. In addition, kumquats are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, so they are a great addition to your diet. Eating kumquats can help boost your immune system and may aid in weight management.
Grapefruit is one of the sourest fruits, but it still makes its way to breakfast tables daily. Add sugar to cut grapefruit or mix it in a smoothie to combat its bitterness.
Grapefruits are mainly grown in warm climates, like California, Texas, and Florida, but do well when shipped due to their thick skin. If you want to avoid eating extraordinarily sour and bitter grapefruit, opt for ones later in the season when they’ve had time to ripen.
Adding grapefruit to your diet is excellent since it’s packed with vitamin C and other vital nutrients and minerals. In addition, it has a decent amount of fiber, which helps with digestion and overall gut health.
Tamarind is a sour fruit found in pods and is likely native to tropical Africa. The edible fruit also has a sweet flavor, which only gets sweeter as it ripens. Tamarind is rich in tartaric acid, which gives it its sour taste.
Using unripe tamarind makes you more likely to experience a sour flavor, while ripe ones become sweeter. Tamarind is an excellent addition to your diet as it can help regulate lipid metabolism, help ease nausea during pregnancy, and aid in reducing inflammation.
In addition, tamarind is an excellent vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and iron source. You can add tamarind to marinades, mix it with Indian curries, or eat it raw.
Sauerkraut contains lactic acid, which gives it its traditional sour taste. You traditionally make sauerkraut by fermenting shredded cabbage and salt for several weeks; however, it is also commonly sold at grocery stores.
Once fermented, sauerkraut has beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, that help keep your gut healthy. In fact, eating sauerkraut is better than taking an over-the-counter probiotic, as two ounces of sauerkraut contains more probiotics than 100 tablets.
You can eat sauerkraut plain, add it to a hot dog, put it in scrambled eggs, add it to potatoes, or use it as a dip. Regardless of how you use it, you’ll reap the healthy benefits of this sour food.
Yogurt is another sour food full of probiotics and a great addition to any diet, pending you don’t have lactose intolerance. Like sauerkraut, yogurt gets its sour flavor from lactic acid, which occurs during fermentation.
Yogurt is an excellent food choice, as it is high in calcium, live cultures, protein, and necessary vitamins. Your best bet for yogurt is to eat it plain without added sugars; instead, you can add fresh fruit to your bowl of yogurt.
You can also use yogurt as a substitute in many recipes, especially those calling for sour cream or cream cheese. If you are up to it, you can make yogurt at home in your oven or instant pot.
18. Picked Japanese Apricots
You probably don’t want to eat a pickled Japanese apricot raw due to its potentially sour flavor. In addition, the raw fruit may contain toxic chemicals, making it unsafe for consumption.
However, people have used the small fruit for medicinal uses to help with intestinal disorders and colds and to prevent heart disease. You’ll also find pickled Japanese apricots used in the traditional Japanese apricot fruit juice.
Japanese apricots are also called umeboshi; they are salt-cured and sun-dried for a few days before eating.
Currants are small berries with a sour, sweet flavor similar to gooseberries, which also made the list of sour foods. You usually find currants in sauces, jams, desserts, and baked goods and likely don’t eat them plain.
While they pack a punch, currants are loaded with vitamin C to keep a healthy immune system. In addition, currants are a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Therefore, you want to add currants to your diet if you are looking to promote healthy bones and help muscle contraction.
You can find currants at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, but expect to pay more than your traditional berries. However, currant bushes are easy to grow, so you may consider one in your background to save on costs.
Guava is a popular fruit from Central and South America but is incredibly sour when served unripe. You’ll come across several guava varieties, some oval-shaped, while others are round.
Despite its potential for sour flavor, guava offers more vitamin C than oranges, and you can also eat the seeds. Some use guava leaves to relieve stomach issues, wound healing, lower blood pressure, and aid with diabetes.
While you can eat guava plain, many people use it in recipes like jam, beverages, desserts, sauces, syrups, and sandwiches.
Kefir is thin milk, similar to yogurt, and has the consistency of drinkable yogurt. While kefir has a sour taste, it also can help with digestive problems, boost your immune system, prevent certain cancers, and improve bone health.
Kefir is usually made with cow’s milk; however, you can find non-dairy alternatives. In addition, kefir is high in probiotics and vital nutrients to keep a balanced diet and healthy gut. Some people add kefir to their diet instead of yogurt for maximum benefits.
You can make homemade kefir or find it at most grocery stores, but some pre-made versions have added sugar, so you want to read the nutrition label before purchasing.
Vinegar has a sour taste and pungent aroma due to its acetic acid. While the acetic acid varies by type of vinegar, you’ll likely find a sour flavor in most varieties.
White vinegar has several benefits, including reducing cholesterol, aiding in weight management, and helping control blood sugar levels. Studies have also seen vinegar prevent the growth of cancer cells in mice.
You probably don’t want to drink plain vinegar, so mixing it with water or juice is best to make it more tolerable. In addition, the acid in plain vinegar may cause nausea, inflame your stomach, or erode tooth enamel.
While they definitely aren’t a naturally sour food, Warheads will make your lips pucker in no time. Warheads made their debut in 1975, and some may say they started the sour candy bandwagon.
The bite-sized candy offers a huge sour punch due to the malic acid used in creating Warheads. If you eat too many Warheads in one sitting, you likely will experience irritation to your tongue and mouth.
Over the years, they expanded their brand and added flavors to the sour Warheads, including watermelon, lemon, and black cherry. They also had an extremely sour version for those brave enough to try.
24. Sour Patch Kids
Another sour candy staple is Sour Patch Kids, which came on the U.S. scene in 1985, although they had been in Canada since the 70s. The soft gummy candy has a sour sugar coating and is notorious for its robust flavor.
The sugar coating on Sour Patch Kids is made with citric and tantric acids, which react with your saliva and give a sour taste. Once the sugary coating is gone, you taste the sweet gummy underneath.
Sour Patch Kids are undoubtedly high in sugar, so it’s best to stay away from them if sugar is off your radar. So while you can eat the popular candy out of the bag, several recipes use it in cakes and cupcakes.
You can find various sour foods at your local grocery store; many offer vital health benefits like probiotics and necessary vitamins and help prevent specific ailments.
If you have a sensitive stomach, you want to ensure you don’t overdo it with sour foods and mix them with other food groups. Unfortunately, an excess number of sour foods can lead to troubles if your stomach can’t handle them.
However, adding sour foods to your diet provides variety and a little bit of tang in your daily routine.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.