Tasty Acids

The story so far – I’ve got 8 live bacterial cultures (and two yeasts) obtained from a bottle of Peach Lambic, imported from Belgium. I strongly suspect that 6 of the 8 are Pediococcus species, and the other two are in the Lactobacillus genus. It is also possible that some of them might turn out to Leuconostoc or some other genus, but I suspect them all to be in the Order Lactobacillales somewhere, anyway.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get good, definitive sequence data from the bacterial isolates later this week.

Lactic acid seems to be the predominant acid in Lambic ales, produced by the various bacteria which break down the sugars in the beer and spew out lactic acid as a waste product.

Pediococcus also shows up in wines, where it’s associated with “malolactic fermentation” – where it converts the harsher malic acid into the more mellow-tasting lactic acid.

Thinking about this led me to think about the other distinctive acids found in foods. Here’s a listing (in no particular order) of some, with foods associated with their distinct flavors:

  • Lactic acid = “Yogurt” acid (and Sour Cream.  And many types of pickles.)
  • Malic acid = “Apple” acid (“Green Apple” flavor)
  • Tartaric acid = “Grape” acid (Verjuice and “Grape flavor”)
  • Acetic acid = “Vinegar” acid
  • Citric acid = “Lemon/Lime” acid (or “Pixy Stix®” flavor)
  • Propionic acid = Swiss cheese acid

In other news, I need a real microscope of my own.

Published by


The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

Leave a Reply