I was doing some research into flavorless (or flavor-neutral) acids that could be used to create certain things without altering the flavor of the outcome (say, an emulsion).

Stearic acid immediately came to mind because it's known to be associated with lowered LDL cholesterol when compared to other fatty acids, and it naturally occurs in many proteins such as beef / chicken / most fish. I knew it doesn't taste like anything because my parents ran a candle business out of our basement growing up, and I accidentally grabbed some thinking it was sugar, and was quite surprised when I tasted nothing.

I looked at a study which also breaks down the average content of stearic per 100 grams of various proteins and adding a few milligrams of it to something like a sauce definitely seems like it could be in the safe realm of possibility.

But I can't really find any references to any real culinary use for it other than its natural occurrence, which led me to wonder why it's not a more commonly used additive for the properties that it has? I'm also not certain if I'm over-estimating the efficacy of it used as an acid. I've never used it in any of the kitchens where I've worked.

Does anyone know more about it?

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    Candle makers often use a simple syrup in addition to stearic acid as a hardener, which is why (younger) me went fishing for sugar in a candle factory (in case anyone was wondering). – Tim Post Sep 27 '16 at 18:29
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    Stearic acid is a major component in cocoa butter: prod.thestoryofchocolate.com/What/… and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_butter ; probably as a mixed triglyceride though. You might be able to use stearate as a cocoa butter substitute. in some recipes. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 27 '16 at 23:25
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    Does making dish soap for use in the kitchen count as a common culinary (though not in-food) use? :) – rackandboneman Sep 28 '16 at 9:01
  • BTW, it's in tallow and butterfat too... seems to be a very "heavy" saturated fat with appropriate properties, and it is definitely licensed under the E570 umbrella as a food additive. – rackandboneman Sep 28 '16 at 9:04

Its main "culinary" use is as a binder or texture agent in "processed" foods. You'll tend to find it in stuff like chewing gum, edible wax, and various candy elements like coatings.

Aside from its natural occurrence (which, as noted in comments, comes in sorts of foods, but especially animal and vegetable oils and fats), it is also sometimes found in substances that are trying to mimic those oils or fats, like artificial butter flavoring, etc.

As a long-chain fatty acid, its solubility in water is limited, so it can't really be used as an "acid" in the way you tend to think about culinary stuff like vinegar or citric acid. (And its effective pH would be way too high to do anything.) The "fatty" part of the carbon chain also dominates the perceptual aspect of it, so it will taste more "fatty" than sour or acidic.

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