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I made a simple carrot puree last night doing the following:

  • Sweat off some carrots, onions, garlic and a bit of peeled apple
  • Added a small amount of apple cider vinegar
  • Added a bit of an alcoholic cider along with some water as a "stock" and simmered until soft. The alcoholic cider was a bit of an experiment.

Once blended, I noticed the puree was quite sweet (cider added a lot of sweetness along with the carrots), so I added a touch more apple cider vinegar to try balance and brighten things, especially considering the puree was a side to quite a rich protein.

The result was OK but not really what I wanted...I found the vinegar acidity did balance and lift the dish a bit, but I also found myself tasting the vinegar a bit too much. I wanted the acidity & brightness without actually tasting the apple cider vinegar.

I was left wondering if I should've rather added more cider vinegar earlier and let it cook through, or maybe just use less..or even just use a different type of vinegar?

So I guess my question more generally is: for this type of food, what is the best way to add some acidity to simply brighten things up without actually over-powering it? Any suggestions on other types of vinegars I could've used?

  • This is maybe a silly question, but did you salt the puree as well, or try adjusting with a bit more salt? I've always found that seasoning can bring things into balance without having to tweak sourness/sweetness. – logophobe Mar 23 '17 at 15:40
  • It's a good question :) I did try more salt in the puree, but still found it too sweet...which is why I tried to add more vinegar. I will try lemon juice next time. – Stephen Asherson Mar 23 '17 at 16:35
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For anything of this kind, I would use lemon juice. It is acidic while not being overpowering like a vinegar can be. It performs the same job in, for example, fruit pies - a little lemon juice enhances the fruitiness and flavour of whatever the main fruit is.

  • Beat me to it, yes lemon juice, or I would personally use lime juice. – dougal 5.0.0 Mar 22 '17 at 13:28
  • Might even be able to find powdered citric acid, for even less flavor added - Though I prefer lemon or lime myself – Megha Mar 23 '17 at 0:30
  • Will give lemon juice a shot next time..thanks. I had wondered if it would alter the flavor of the puree too much. – Stephen Asherson Mar 23 '17 at 16:32
  • Most of the lemon flavour comes from oils in the rind - you shouldn't notice too much in just the juice. – ElendilTheTall Mar 24 '17 at 8:51
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If you want to avoid adding liquid, you could add sumac, anardana or amchur - these are somewhat exotic, but these days usually obtainable, dry spices that are also sour.

  • Very interesting...I haven't experimented at all using dry spices that are sour. I will have to keep that in mind :) – Stephen Asherson Mar 23 '17 at 16:33
  • Some types of Döner use sumac, some typical samosas are souring the potato mash inside with amchur, using anardana is not uncommon in indian chickpea curries.... – rackandboneman Mar 24 '17 at 9:47

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