What is Ascorbic Acid?

While the idea of only eating simple unprocessed foods is great, it can be challenging.

I try to go for the second best thing which is understanding what the unpronounceable ingredients are.

With that goal in mind I give you…

Ascorbic Acid

What is ascorbic acid?

Ascorbic acid or ascorbate is another word for vitamin C.

It occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables.

Ascorbic acid is easily damaged by heat or contact with iron or copper. Because of this, it is often added back as an additive.

Ascorbic acid has a very similar chemical composition to glucose so manufacturers can cheaply synthesize it with glucose as a starting material.

It has a bitter taste that is often covered up with the addition of citric acid.

What is ascorbic acid used for?

It is used:

  • as an antioxidant used to maintain the red color in cured meat and prevent the formation of nitrosamines that promote cancer.
  • as a nutrient added to fruit drinks, breakfast cereals, and fruit snacks to pump up the vitamin content
  • as a color stabilizer in dried fruit and fresh-cut fruit. It can be added to fresh fruits like apples, avocados, bananas, and pears to prevent browning once they’ve been cut.
  • as an artificial flour aging agent. Aging flour increases the exposure to air, which improves the strength of the resulting dough and result in faster mixing and reduced staling of the finished baked product. Ascorbic acid can be added to bread to artificially age the flour and obtain the same effect.

Fun Fact: Ascorbic acid can be added to water that has been purified using iodine to remove the yucky iodine aftertaste.

Is ascorbic acid safe?

Ascorbic acid is not only safe, it is an essential nutrient for humans.

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