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What is Paan Choona?

Lime is called Choona in Hindi. The edible-lime used on Paan is called 'Paan Choona'. Edible lime is also known as Pickling-lime

Crude Lime is Calcium Carbonate derived from lime-stones. The Calcium Carbonate is heated to make Calcium oxide. Calcium oxide is pure lime but it is not edible.

Calcium oxide is known as Quicklime. When any moisture is added, the quicklime heats-up and bubbles to give out toxic fumes. It can also cause severe skin burns.

The quicklime is treated with plenty of pure water in a controlled environment to produce Calcium Hydroxide, where adding any more water does not cause burns or generate fumes.

Calcium hydroxide is edible lime. In India, its prominent use is in making Paan, hence the term Paan-Choona. In United States, it is called 'food grade lime' or 'Pickling Lime'.

The calcium in Paan Choona reinforces the the pectin in the exemplar (vegetable or fruit being pickled). Choona is highly alkaline and will neutralize the acid. In reality the exemplar is soaked in a solution of water (2 Cups) and Choona ( teaspoon) for 12 hours to improve the firmness. After 12 hours, the exemplar is drained, and rinsed thoroughly with fresh water at least 3 times to remove all the traces of Choona. The acid is introduced back as vinegar or lime juice. If the vegetable/fruit is not thoroughly rinsed, it can lead to botulism.

In United States, use of pickling-lime is legal, but discouraged.

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