The astringent adjective allows us to describe what causes a sensation on the tongue that combines bitterness and dryness. The concept of astringent is also often applied with reference to medications and foods that astringe: that is, they constipate (make it difficult to evacuate the stool) or narrow the tissues.
Astringency is called the astringent condition. There are substances that have this property and that are applied to the skin in order to retract the tissue; They are useful to combat bleeding and inflammation, and help with the healing process. Alcohols, tannins, and bismuth salts are some of the best known astringents.
Tannins are compounds whose properties are suitable for the coagulation of the proteins present in our skin: they generate a dry layer on the digestive mucosa that provides it with the necessary protection against external agents, while disinfecting it by coagulating bacterial proteins.
The tannin content of the fruits begins to decrease the longer they are allowed to ripen, and the same occurs when they are cooked. A very common example of this change can be seen when comparing the astringent taste of a raw apple with that of a baked one.
In addition to promoting skin healing, foods rich in tannins stop bleeding, are antibacterial and antioxidant. Some of the most beneficial astringent foods are:
* Acerola: it is a particularly astringent fruit, with a tannin content ranging from 20 to 25 percent. On the other hand, it is also among the greatest natural sources of vitamin C (as a reference, orange has fifty times less);
* carob tree: it is a tree whose fruit is especially recommended to stop the processes of diarrhea;
* blueberries: the antimicrobial properties of this fruit help fight intestinal infections, and perfectly complement its astringent effect;
* shepherd’s bag: this plant is used with great success in the external treatment of hemorrhoids;
* persimmon: a fruit that contains mucilage, very useful in softening the intestinal mucosa. It is used to treat ailments and sores on the inside of the mouth, as well as to cure gastritis;
* false pepper shaker: the bark of this tree is used externally for skin care;
* raspberry: with its leaves it is possible to make mouthwashes, antiseptics and anti-inflammatories for the skin;
* bearberry: it is also known as bear grape, and it is a natural astringent product that many take advantage of for wound healing;
* pomegranate: among the uses of this fruit are treatments for inflammation of the stomach and intestines, intestinal worms and gastritis.
As for astringent flavors, they can be found in fruits, teas and wines. In the case of red wine, the presence of tannins makes it an astringent drink, a characteristic especially evident in stronger wines (which are those that have a higher amount of tannins).
The difference in astringency between red and white wines is due to the characteristics of the production process that each goes through. The grape, in white wine, is harvested when it reaches a certain maturity and is separated from its sticks. For this reason, tannins are sweet. When the chopsticks are not separated properly, the tannins become bitter and more astringent.
The process of making red wine, meanwhile, involves mixing the pulp, skins and seeds with the must, making tannins give it the characteristic color and the usual astringent flavor.