The Punchy Ingredient That Totally Transforms Regular Popcorn

Person reaching into bowl of popcorn
Person reaching into bowl of popcorn - Freshsplash/Getty Images

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Whether you're in the mood for a sweet or savory snack, popcorn will deliver: You can reach for classic buttered popcorn with a dash of salt or traditional sweet options like kettle-cooked or caramel popcorn. Serious popcorn fans also love to experiment with other flavor additions, looking to see just how well the crunchy snack food can adapt to different flavor profiles. It's not uncommon for snackers to sprinkle ranch seasoning, chocolate, or pizza-flavored powder onto their freshly popped bowls. But if these options still sound too typical for your adventurous palate and you're looking to turn your plain popcorn into something a little more interesting, consider adding a pinch of citric acid for an extra sour punch.

Citric acid is one of the latest popcorn trends among hungry crowds looking for a snack that will make their lips pucker. Just a sprinkle of this sour ingredient will elevate your popcorn with a new flavor you don't often associate with the traditional movie theater concession. As an ingredient that derives from the flavor in citrus fruits that makes your eyes twitch and turns your mouth inside out, citric acid is an unexpected yet surprisingly delicious addition to freshly popped popcorn.

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You're Probably Already Enjoying Citric Acid A Lot More Than You Realize

Citric acid with lemons
Citric acid with lemons - Qwart/Getty Images

People often toss a bag of M&M chocolate candies into their buttered popcorn for a combination of sweet and salty, but have you ever considered combining your movie theater snack with a handful of Sour Patch Kids instead? This could be your gateway into the world of citric acid-covered popcorn.

Citric acid is a natural flavoring found in citrus fruits like lemons and limes. According to the American Chemical Society, a Swedish–German chemist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele first discovered the chemical compound known as citric acid in 1784. Soon after, it was manufactured as a fine-grain ingredient that creative food innovators began to add to other foods. This is where sour candies like Warheads and Sour Skittles get their extra-sour burst of flavor. Citric acid is often found in things like seasoning packets and marinades to provide that extra touch of bright, fresh taste — but isolate the acid, and you're in for an extremely sour experience.

While the word "acid" may give you pause, rest assured that the ingredient is perfectly safe to eat. Some recipes even add citric acid as an alternative to salt or other flavorings, hoping to benefit from the compound's intense flavor without the added sodium and sugars. In addition to providing sour-lovers with an extra mouthwatering experience, citric acid is also used to preserve foods and can be used for a wide variety of medical and cleaning purposes.

This Sour Powder Is Just The Beginning Of New Popcorn Flavor Combinations

Popcorn sprinkled with citric acid
Popcorn sprinkled with citric acid - Simonkr/Getty

Popcorn has emerged as one of the go-to snacks of 2023 — the classic poppable treat has risen in popularity in recent years as people search for a low-cost, filling bite that can be enjoyed with a ton of different additional ingredients. If you're looking to transform your popcorn into something new for your tastebuds to enjoy, try out the citric acid trend. You can buy a bag of citric acid for $6.99 on Amazon or search the spice shelves of your local grocery store.

After securing your citric acid and adding it to a freshly popped bag of popcorn, you may be curious about what other ingredients would really take the snacking experience to the next level. For an extra citrusy popcorn experience, add a dash of lemon or lime zest to your popcorn. Unlike citrus juice, which will turn your popcorn soggy the second it hits your popcorn, the combination of citric acid and zest will combine the sour flavors you love with an added fresh element. You can even balance out the sour profile with a pinch of salt or sugar for an even more complex bite.

You can also experiment with sour and spicy by adding a touch of cayenne powder, ground peppercorns, or even orange zest. The possibilities are seemingly endless — but get a glass of water ready to cleanse your palate after all that sour snacking.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.