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I wonder if there is any common food with a pH higher than 8? Or is it simply that we humans don't eat anything alkaline because the taste would be soapy/bitter?
I searched around the Internet only to find very weakly alkaline foods, in the range of 7~8, which is very weak alkalinity (1 2)
I'm asking this out of sheer curiosity, not to fix overly sour tomato sauce for example, so just don't say baking soda or lime please!

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    There are some parts of some common foods that are fairly alkaline, but determining these is quite difficult. An example would be the pH of pretzel crust, should be quite alkaline given that it is commonly boiled in lye (NaOH), but finding values for this is quite hard.
    – bob1
    Feb 8, 2022 at 7:37
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    Common where? You need to narrow this down to a cuisine or it's too broad.
    – GdD
    Feb 8, 2022 at 8:53
  • It would be the best if the food is readily available in a typical middle-sized American supermarket, but please tell me any food from any cuisine should it have a really high pH!
    – anemia0
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:44
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    Why do you find 7-8 "very weak alkalinity"? Baking soda has a pH of 9. If you don't know how this level of alkalinity reacts, eat a teaspoon of baking soda, and you'll see why the effect may not be desirable from a meal. And don't worry, this is not a prank - people swallow baking soda on purpose, and the experience is unusual, but neither dangerous nor so terrible as to not be worth it for a curious experimenter.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:44
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    Actually, I have tasted baking soda before, when I accidentally added too much to my cake batter. It was salty, bitter, and "soapy", with a nasty aftertaste that made me want to vomit... made that cake totally inedible. Oh, btw, a pH of 9 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 8, though it's still weak alkalinity in a chemistry sense (but of course very strong in the culinary sense).
    – anemia0
    Feb 9, 2022 at 0:37

4 Answers 4

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Lutefisk!

lutefisk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutefisk

Microbiota of lutefisk, a Nordic traditional cod dish with a high pH

Most foods have either a neutral or a slightly acidic pH, whereas only a limited number of products have a pH above 8. The Nordic traditional fish dish lutefisk is an exception, with a pH around 12 during production and a ready for consumption pH above 10. Lutefisk is prepared from dried Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), soaked in water and thereafter treated in a lye solution.

That lutefisk looks pretty good to me! And it is as alkaline a food as you will find, I think.

What, you can't find lutefisk in the supermarket in your part of the world? Well, you must be in the wrong part of the world to find lutefisk.

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  • Along those lines Hakerl (Finnish fermented shark) is about 8-8.8 I think. Also along those lines, fish sauce is about pH 4-5.5,
    – bob1
    Feb 8, 2022 at 22:06
  • just found more foods pickled in lye: hominy, olives, pretzels (as mentioned in other answers), and century eggs. But imo none of them can be as alkaline as lutefisk.
    – anemia0
    Feb 10, 2022 at 23:54
  • It might look good but I have several family members who all agree it’s kinda horrible. I confess I’ve never tried it myself. Mar 2, 2022 at 6:59
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Tortillas, made by traditional processes, can have a pH above 8 (see table 1 in link). Though commercially processed ones have their pH reduced by addition of acid to prevent spoilage, so they are normally around pH 5-6.

The range of pH varies quite a bit in the (scientific) literature for traditionally produced, with ranges from about 6-8, so this isn't something that is certain, but as you can get tortillas fairly easily in the USA, I thought it would be a useful addition.

Edited to add - the process that makes the tortilla basic is the use of Nixtamal (pronounced with the x as a sh sound), which involves cooking and soaking corn in an alkaline mixture of metal carbonates, traditionally derived from wood ash, but these days usually using limewater (calcium hydroxide). As a result of the nixtamalization, the hull of the corn can be removed and the interior made into a soft dough, which retains some of the alkaline properties of the nixtamalization process.

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Almost all food is slightly acidic, but as Harold McGee points out in 'On Food and Cooking', there are two exceptions found in most kitchens: baking powder and egg-whites.

Baking powder doesn't quite qualify as 'food', but egg whites surely do!

Fresh egg whites have a pH of about 7.6, but it increases with age. (source:the incredible egg

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  • If you start looking around for ingredients, the list will soon become super-long. For me, neither baking soda nor egg whites are a food. The few people I know who would ever drink a raw egg first scramble the egg yolk with the egg white.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 9, 2022 at 15:00
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Another food that is commonly cured in lye is olives, especially those processed in Spain (and, apparently, California?). Most commercial methods will then follow this with a salt brine and a final neutralisation step with vinegar or similar acids, but I've had "sweet" (non-brined) olives that were clearly basic. I can't find a reference in English but some in Italian mention a pH of 8-9.

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