Recipe Rescue: What To Do When Foods Are Too Acidic?

Fall is the season for thick stews, chillis and rich pasta dishes. They all provide intense comfort for many of us, but what happens when your tomatoes or tomatillos scream acidity instead of rich comfort food. Just like you add potatoes to overly salty foods, this is one kitchen fix you'll have memorized in seconds!

I had the great fortune of being invited to a soup potluck gathering this week and so I decided to clear out the freezer of summer goods and some fresh ingredients from the store. A white bean and slow roasted pork chilli was on my agenda and it was packed with some serious flavor from tomatillos, garlic, lime, cilantro and white onion.

All was going swimmingly until I took that first taste test after a few hours of simmering. The acidity was so overwhelming I literally stopped in my tracks and went straight for a cracker and some water. What was I to do?! I had made no less than 4 gallons and I had no desire of letting it go to waste!

After a quick google and some on-the-fly taste testing, I found one simple solution (which would have seemed more obvious had the acidity not melted so many brain cells). Baking Soda. When sifted over the top of a soup, stew or sauce, baking soda will first bubble up (just like it does with white vinegar) and when the chemical reaction stops, you're ready to taste test things again.

I had to add several tablespoons of baking soda to tame the large amount of chilli that was in my stock pot, but I'd suggest starting out with a teaspoon and working your way up. The Baking Soda won't leave any residual taste in your mixture, just make sure not to taste things (and continue stirring) until all the bubbles have receded. It was a simple solution to what could have been a disaster. So file this one away for the next time your pasta sauce is a little too bright, or your chilli tastes more of harsh tomatoes than it does tender tasty meat and beans.

Do you have a quick kitchen fix? Let us know in the comments below!

Related: A Bowl of Chili: 6 Different Takes on a Classic

(Image: Fokal)