Under the scanner: Calcium Hydroxide and its indispensable role in food industry


If you happen to own a family pickling business or happen to be a huge fan of pickles in general – then you would know your lime pickles and the pivotal role it plays in ensuring that your vegetables get pickled, extra crunchy. But before you get into the various uses of Calcium Hydroxide in the food industry, here’s what you need to know regarding this white, odorless powder. For starters, you can obtain the chemical at the local chemist shop or a specified specialist store in large quantities. And it goes under several monikers with slaked lime being the most popular one. And believe it or not, apart from its use in the food industry, it also happens to be widely used as an industrial solvent, in the sewage treatment process, paper production, and more. That’s why you may first want to check out its various uses in the food industry.

Who does not love pickles and the crunchier the better? And that’s one of the reasons that this particular chemical is utilized in the preparation process of pickling where lime pickles are often used with other vegetables, to give it the added crunch. Lime pickles are nothing more than food-grade Calcium Hydroxide. If you go through many of the old cookbooks, you would find that most of them recommend soaking cucumbers and other vegetables in lime pickles for 12 hours or longer before you can eat them. That should enable your vegetables to remain extra crunchy, just the way you love them. But keep in mind that lime pickles have been linked to botulism cases of late, so you need to be extra careful when using the same in your traditional pickle recipes.

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It may be hard to believe, the first time you hear about it but the people of South America have been using Calcium Hydroxide to process corn. And before the query pops up as to how they could obtain Calcium hydroxide so long back- they primarily derived the same from naturally occurring sources, including lime pickle. South Americans used this chemical to derive corn flour from corn and as you may already know, corn was the staple diet of the Americas well before Spain made its impact known.

  • Sugar

Here, Calcium Hydroxide is primarily utilized in the preparation of sugar, to remove the impurities. Since sugar is derived from sugarcane and sugar beets, they are first processed through a process called carbonation. This process is where an untreated sugar solution is mixed along with certain amounts of calcium hydroxide which in turn, helps to remove the impurities altogether. 

  • Fortified juice

It may come as a surprise but at times, the natural fruit juice is fortified further by adding some calcium hydroxide. This adds more nutrition to the juice and should help make it more healthy.

  • Canned drinks

When it comes to pickling vegetables in cans, by adding calcium hydroxide to the solution, you may want to rinse off the lime pickle first. Granted that lime pickles are a natural source of calcium hydroxide, but given the botulism risks and the fact that the vegetables would be stored for long periods in a closed can, it becomes essential that you wash the lime pickles carefully before adding them to the solution.

These are some of the pertinent information, regarding calcium hydroxide. 


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