5 Benefits Of Using Alum Or Fitkari In Your Kitchen
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One of the key ingredients that were immensely popular and used in every Indian kitchen even a few decades back but is quickly going out of style is Alum. More popularly known as Fitkari in India, you might have seen your mother or grandmother stocking it up in small jars at home, and wondered why and how it is used. The fact is, Alum is called Shubhra in Ayurveda, and has been around for centuries for its culinary uses and health benefits. Here’s what you should know. 

Alum is known as potassium alum, and it is a naturally occurring chemical compound that has been historically used for various purposes, including culinary uses. The use of Alum in traditional medicine systems of India and China dates back centuries, and for good reason. The benefits of using Alum or Fitkari in certain food preparations and other aspects of health through natural remedies are quite well known to most Indians. 

However, if you aren’t aware of these benefits of Alum or Fitkari, here are five incredible ways in which it can benefit your health and food prep if you add it to your kitchen practices. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Memoona Muslima

1. Water Purifier 

Historically, Alum has been used as a brilliant water purification agent. The way this works is this: add a few crystals of Alum to a large bottle of water and let it rest for an hour at least. You will observe that the impurities in the water settle down at the bottom and then you can easily drain out the remaining safe water and use it to drink or cook food. This benefit of Alum can come especially in handy for those travelling, hiking or camping out in nature. 

2. Food Preservation 

Alum of Fitkari has traditionally been used in Indian pickle recipes because they are natural preservatives. Not only does adding Alum in the pickling process reduce the risk of spoilage, but also keeps the vegetables or fruits in the pickles crisp in texture for a long time. In fact, many traditional pickle recipes anyways provide the amount of Alum required to make these Indian delicacies. 

3. Baking Powder Substitute 

Want to bake a cake but don’t have any baking powder? Worry not, because Alum can come in handy. Not only can adding Alum to cakes help leaven or rise cake batters and bread doughs, but it can also add a bit of astringent taste. So, know the measurements right and use in moderation and only when you don’t have any baking powder. 

4. Sore Throat Remedy 

Fitkari is often mixed with a bit of honey and given as a home remedy for cough, cold and sore throat in Indian households. This is because Alum has antiseptic properties which not only help in removing mucus buildup from the lungs, but also reduces inflammation. So, heal your sore throat naturally with this simple homemade remedy with Alum. 

5. Skin Care Benefits 

Because of its antiseptic properties, Alum has been traditionally used in skin care and home remedies for the skin for centuries. Applying Alum-infused powder can help deal with acne, spots and even dark circles. On the other hand, using Alum on your armpits can get rid of body odour as well. Just be careful of the dosage. 

Potential Side Effects Of Alum Or Fitkari 

Despite its many potential uses, there are significant concerns about the safety of alum consumption these days—which is the reason why many countries have limited or banned the free or unregulated use of this natural compound. Alum contains aluminium, and excessive consumption of this element has been linked to toxicity, bone disorders and kidney problems. In fact, for those with hypersensitivities and pre-existing issues like allergy, psoriasis, etc. application of Alum on the skin can lead to irritation, burning sensation, hives and inflammation. 

So, it is best to use Alum under a doctor’s guidance. If you are using it with traditional Indian methods in mind, even then you should observe in case it leads to allergic or toxic reactions and visit a doctor if needed. With these simple yet essential facts in hand, you will not only be able to use Alum or Fitkari in your kitchen, but also be able to reap the benefits better.