Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

Where to Buy Food Grade Ascorbic Acid

Because of its common use as a nutritional supplement, food grade (or better) Ascorbic Acid can be found at most drug stores and in many supermarkets, stocked alongside the other vitamin supplements. When sold as a pure powder, Ascorbic Acid is usually packaged in a jar or small resealable bag – but be sure to check the ingredients closely for whether it’s 100% pure or other ingredients are included.

If you can’t find it with the vitamins, grocery stores may also have Ascorbic Acid with the canning supplies. In this case, it’s often sold as “Fruit-Fresh® Produce Protector” or something similar. These products may also include additional ingredients like Dextrose or anti-caking agents.

Ascorbic Acid can be purchased online, which is often more convenient for finding a specific purity level or buying bulk amounts. Always make sure you are purchasing food-grade product if you are using it as a food or beverage ingredient.

What is Ascorbic Acid?

Ascorbic acid, or what is more commonly known as vitamin C, is an organic compound naturally present in a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Examples include citrus fruits, peppers papayas, strawberries, etc. It is mostly hailed as being one of the most popular and safe natural preservatives available.

Once extracted after a number of chemical reactions, an odorless, white to slightly yellow crystalline powder with a strong acidic taste is obtained. It was first isolated in 1928 by Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian-American chemist. In 1932, scientists discovered that the dietary absence of Vitamin C causes scurvy.

Uses of Ascorbic Acid in Food

Ascorbic acid can be added to just about anything. For a food additive, only a small amount is needed to deliver the desired effect whether it is as an antioxidant, color stabilizer, preservative, dough enhancer or vitamin C supplement.

As an antioxidant, ascorbic acid slows down the oxidation process, allowing certain foods to preserve their color and freshness for a longer period of time. Oxidation causes the browning of food when exposed to air like what happens to a cut apple or banana when left uncovered. Like any acid, it helps lower the pH inside food making it less favorable for the growth of bacteria and molds. Hence, it is used in a wide variety of jarred fruits, canned goods and processed foods.

When added to cure meat products, ascorbic acid prevents the nitrates and nitrites present in the meat from changing to nitrosamine which changes the color of meat, thus preserving the attractive red color consumers want to see. In the baking industry, it is a baker’s best friend. When added to dough, it increases the loaf volume by speeding up the rising process and strengthens the gluten present in flour, making the crumb part softer and finer. In beverages, it can be added as a preservative, an enhancer of the nutritional value or, in the case of wine and beer, as a clarifying agent.