Properties and uses of citric acid

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Properties and uses of citric acid
Properties and uses of citric acid

What is citric acid, production features. Useful properties and harm. Cooking methods, preservation recipes.

Citric acid is a substance with a pronounced sour taste that has a wide range of uses. It is found in nature in its natural form, mainly in citrus fruits and berries. Synthetically, it is most often produced from corn by fermentation. The world turnover is more than 1.5 million tons - almost half of this volume is produced in China. The most popular product in the food industry, appears as additives E330-E333, plays the role of an acidity regulator and preservative. It is most often used for the manufacture of processed cheese curds, various drinks and dry mixtures for their preparation. Citric acid belongs to harmless additives and is allowed for unlimited use. At home, it is used primarily for conservation.

Features of citric acid production

Citric acid in a wooden spoon
Citric acid in a wooden spoon

The alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan is considered to be the discoverer of citric acid, but the first who was able to isolate the substance is a pharmacist from Sweden - Karl Scheele. At the end of the 18th century, using a precipitation reaction, he obtained acid from lemon juice in the form of calcium citrate. However, in its pure form, it was already possible to isolate it from citrate only after almost a century.

After the industrial development of the product began, initially it was made directly from lemon juice. The latter was combined with quicklime, as a result of which calcium citrate was precipitated, which was further processed, and as a result, citric acid was obtained.

But at the end of the 19th century, a method for obtaining a product by fermentation was discovered in Germany, for which fungi of the penicillus genus were used. For a long time, however, this method could not be introduced, since the mechanisms for purifying the final substance were not debugged, but in 1919 all problems were finally solved.

This was very helpful, since the demand for the product was growing at a tremendous pace and the more convenient enzymatic method opened up new opportunities for the industry. To this day, citric acid is obtained from carbohydrate products, which are fermented by the molds Aspergillus niger.

The original components are different depending on the region. So, in America and Europe, the substance is obtained from the hydrolyzate of corn, in Asia - from the hydrolyzate of cassava and sweet potato, crystalline sucrose, molasses (fodder syrup is a by-product of sugar production), and various agricultural waste are also often used.

Composition and calorie content of citric acid

Citric acid appearance
Citric acid appearance

In the photo citric acid

The formula of the substance is HOOC-CH2-C (OH) COOH-CH2-COOH or (HOOCCH2) 2C (OH) COOH. The chemical composition of citric acid is one hydroxyl and three carboxyl groups, for this reason it is called a tribasic carboxylic acid.

The calorie content of citric acid is 0 kcal, it does not represent nutritional value, but plays an important role in the biochemistry of the human body.

Useful properties of citric acid

Citric acid in a bowl
Citric acid in a bowl

Citric acid is one of the elements of the Krebs cycle, which is a list of reactions that determine energy exchange in cells. The Krebs cycle is one of the most important processes in our body. The entire metabolism and energy level depends on how effectively it passes. However, this is not the only advantage of the substance, let us consider in detail the benefits of citric acid:

  • Stimulates the digestive process … The sour taste of the product has a stimulating effect on the secretion of gastric juice, which makes it possible to better digest food.
  • Improved appetite … In addition, the sour taste provokes appetite and makes it possible to eat more than you want, this is important for people who suffer from exhaustion, or have suffered serious illnesses, operations, etc.
  • Prevention of stone formation … Citric acid is capable of not only preventing the potential formation of kidney stones, but also dissolving small ones that already exist.
  • Alkalinization of the body … It is known that a certain constant pH level must be maintained in our body, however, a traditional diet with an abundance of animal products and a lack of vegetables can lead to acidosis - acidification of the body, which provokes the development of many serious diseases. Citric acid is one of the products that shifts the acid-base balance towards alkalization.
  • Diuretic effect … The product has a mild diuretic effect, allows you to well remove excess fluid from the body, and prevents swelling.
  • Antioxidant effect … Also, the substance is an antioxidant that resists free radicals. The latter are formed in our body under the influence of poor-quality nutrition, polluted air, the use of household chemicals, etc. Free radicals accumulate in the body in large quantities and attack the cells of our body. Antioxidants, on the other hand, are able to take the blow and neutralize the attack. This saves from early aging and many serious diseases.
  • Anesthetic effect … Citric acid has an antiseptic effect, and therefore, for example, if you have a sore throat, it can be dissolved in water in a small amount and drunk, so it will alleviate the pain.

Citric acid is famous for its whitening effect, and therefore it is actively used in cosmetology. And at home you can prepare on its basis, for example, a face mask, which will brighten and even out the skin tone, remove age spots, and normalize the work of the sebaceous glands.

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