Turn To Your Pantry When You Need To Fix An Overly Sour Dish

It happens — sometimes we mess up on the balance of flavors in a dish, whether it lacks seasoning, is overly salted, or just doesn't taste quite right. If you've ever overdone it on the lemon juice or vinegar, you can add too sour to that list as well. Thankfully, with a little creativity and some basic food science know-how, there are some quick fixes hiding right in your pantry.

When balancing flavors, it often helps to think of opposites and one flavor that's quite opposite of sour is sweet. So depending on what you're making, sweetness from something like honey or sugar can help mellow out the sour flavors. Fatty ingredients like olive oil can also help. Additionally, a little baking soda may do the trick. You don't need much, especially since baking soda isn't going to add any extra tasty flavors, but a pinch of this common baking ingredient can help with sourness by neutralizing acidity and balancing the pH levels in the food you've cooked.

How to avoid unpleasant sourness in a dish

In order to produce good flavor in the foods you cook, it's important to have a balance of a few main components: salt, acid, and fat. Of course, there are other flavors to consider like sweetness and savoriness, or umami. But those three primary components all help to stabilize and highlight flavors in any given recipe. Some sourness in certain dishes can be nice, and acidity is a key component in flavor, but you don't want to overdo it and end up with a meal that makes you pucker.

Unwanted sourness in a dish comes from an abundance of acid, which could be the result of adding too much of a tart liquid, like vinegar, citrus juice, or white wine, or from ingredients that contain a lot of acidity, like tomatoes. When cooking, it's important to remember to taste as you go. This is one way that will help catch an imbalance of acid in your dish before it goes too far. If a dish does end up with a little too much tartness, consider what ingredients are already in the dish that you could add more of to balance it before introducing new ones. If it's a cream sauce that got a little too much white wine in the beginning, the fat from an extra splash of cream should help. A citrusy dessert that ended up with too much lime? Sprinkle in some extra sugar or other sweetener.