By Bridget Reed

What Is the Most Sour Thing in the World?

Have you ever wondered what the most sour thing on the planet is? Us too. We’ve already determined that the Southeast Asian sensation Bilimbi is the most sour naturally occurring fruit in the world, but there are so many other things out there — both edible and not — that might pack a sour punch even more powerful than our favorite sour fruits.

If you ask Quinnie what the most sour thing in the world is, she’ll probably tell you it’s Hank’s attitude after a minor setback. If you ask Hank, he’ll say it’s that stupid pickle jar that got him into this whole mess in the first place. And if you ask the Final Boss, he’ll probably say it’s him.

In a realm where the only way to defeat the ultimate evil is to harness the power of sour to the ultimate maximum degree, getting their hands on the most sour thing in existence might just be the ticket to victory.

To beat the Final Boss and end his reign of bitter terror, our heroes need to find the truth: what is the most sour thing in the world? So we’re venturing far beyond the territory of Gooberland to find out!

Who Is the Sour Supreme?

We know that acids are the building blocks of sour, but not all acids are created equal. Some twist your face into a pucker and others fly right under the taste-bud radar. Some are organic and edible, while others are inorganic and aren’t even safe to touch, let alone eat.

Unfortunately, that means we can’t taste-test everything that might actually be the most sour thing in the world. But if you think that’ll stop us from finding out, buckle up, buttercup because we’re all about to learn something new.

What Are the Most Sour Edible Things?

Thanks to the process of lactic acid fermentation, we get to take vegetables and turn them into delicious, digestion-boosting, crunchy, sour goodness.

5. Sauerkraut

It literally translates to “sour cabbage,” so this one’s a no-brainer. Sauerkraut is fermented shredded cabbage that is excellent at supporting digestion and even better at turning a Reuben sandwich into a masterpiece. 

4. Kimchi

This one is also fermented cabbage, but it can also include radishes, cucumbers, carrots, and other veggies. Because it ferments with chilis, garlic, and other flavorful additions, kimchi is a sour, spicy, salty, and bitter flavor explosion of incredibleness.

3. Pickles

AKA, fermented cucumbers, in case you didn’t know. Sure, there are some sweet pickles out there, but we aren’t talking about those ones right now. 

If pickles were ranked by Final Boss Sour levels, dill pickles would be Level 1, horseradish pickles would be Level 2, and Indian Pickles (also called achaar) would be Level 3. Achaar is fermented with lime, mango, and gooseberry — all of which rank on the list of most sour natural fruits — so you know they take sour pickles to another level.

2. Rhubarb

This one might make you think of a nice, sweet pie, but rhubarb has to soak and bake in a lot of sugar to cut it as a pie filling. By itself, raw rhubarb is actually one of the most sour natural vegetables in the world. 

To make it even better, you can ferment it in vinegars just like all the other lactic acid fermented items on this list to make it even more sour.

1. Sour Candy

Because the world’s sourest candy is specifically created to maximize sourness, we can add insane amounts of concentrated malic and citric acid into the recipes to create sour potency far beyond what the average fermented vegetable can achieve.

What Are the Most Sour Non-Edible Things?

Here’s where we lose our ability to know for sure how sour things are, but because we know that the sourness of inorganic acids can be determined by their pH, we can make some educated assumptions. 

5. Hydrochloric acid

Coming in at 1.6 pH, hydrochloric acid is most commonly used in cleaning supplies, fertilizers, and textiles. Even as the least acidic one on this list, it would cause chemical burns if you touched it.

4. Nitric acid

Used in fertilizers, dyes, and explosives, nitric acid has a pH of 1.08 and is also highly corrosive.

3. Sulfuric Acid

Found most often in fertilizers, explosives, and car batteries, sulfuric acid is the most corrosive and dangerous common acid. In its purest form, it comes in at a mind-boggling -12 pH.

2. Magic Acid

Anything more acidic than pure sulfuric acid is considered a Superacid and is made by combining multiple strong acids, like George Olah’s maniacal creation, magic acid. With only industrial uses, this corrosive beast is 100 billion times more powerful than sulfuric acid, with a pH of -23.

1. Fluoroantimonic Acid

As if that wasn’t wild enough, the strongest acid in the world is 100,000 times even more powerful than magic acid at -28 pH. This one is so crazy that it can only be contained inside of Teflon because it would corrode anything else. 

This terrifying substance is obviously used in explosives, but on the other hand, it’s also used for glass etching, which, to the non-scientist, kind of sounds like lighting a candle with a blowtorch, but what do we know?

Harnessing the Sour Power

In the battle against the Final Boss, Hank and Quinnie can use all the power they can get their hands on. But unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like they could actually get their hands on the most sour things in the world.

There might still be a way to harness the extreme potency of inorganic acids to their benefit, but for now, our heroes will just have to stick to the sour foods they know and love.


Lactic Acid Fermentations - Applications of Biotechnology to Fermented Foods | National Library of Medicine

Regular Consumption of Sauerkraut and Its Effect on Human Health | National Library of Medicine

Superacid - an overview | ScienceDirect

The evolution of sour taste | National Library of Medicine