What are SOURS?

neil bougourd | 26 February, 2024

We hear a lot about the different tastes*: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, & heat.
But, what are they? 

Today we are focusing on the role of 'SOUR' and how to add it to a dish.
Cooking, like art is all about balance. We enjoy tasting things in balance even if we don't know it. People pair things together that 'taste' good - but what does that mean? 
When we make  a lasagna , for example we have meat, cheese, spices, tomatoes, vegetables all of which help layer flavours together to make something that 'tastes' good.
Different flavours balance the other elements in a dish.

Sour helps balance sweet, sweet helps balance bitter, salty helps balance sweet & sour, and so on. When you have a beautiful grilled fish, one often squeezes lemon ( Sweet= Fish / Sour = Lemon), and when you have a delightful dish of hummus , then one often sprinkles sumac ( Sweet=Hummus/ Sour+ Sumac). When you have a dipping bowl of olive oil, one often adds vinegar ( Sweet=Oil/Sour=Vinegar). When making a rich rice dish add some Saskatoon berries ( Sweet=Rice/Sour=Saskatoon berries)-When I categorize something as 'sweet' it isn't necessarily something sugary - it tends towards richness and most carbohydrates ( bread, rice, pasta).
You get the idea.

 A rich curry can benefit from a lemon, or amchur powder, or tamarind.
Think about adding something sour to a delicious puréed soup, or sauce. Sour often wakes up a dish - a splash of good vinegar or citrus enlivens many foods!

Here is a list of 'sours':
Saskatoon Berries
Amchur powder
Tamarind powder