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Foods you consider bitter

 
gardener & bricolagier
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A thought I have wondered about:
A friend said to me "I'm not really a fan of olives (bitter foods in general.)"

I cook, quite often for large groups, and I have had some people not like my cooking for one reason or another, a few times I have heard 'bitter" when there were no ingredients I considered bitter in it. I'd not classify olives as bitter at all, made me wonder what foods are considered bitter by people? Skip the basic bitter greens, those are easy to identify, it's the others I wonder about.

There's something interesting with genetics and flavor preferences, there actually is a chemically based difference in how flavors are processed in bodies, at least 4 major variations I know of, with mixes of them, as well as early exposure to flavors influencing what is considered good or bad. A classic example is cilantro, to me it tastes light and lemony, to people who have a different chemical make up, it tastes soapy. I would have never considered it soapy. Children are more avoidant of bitter and sour tastes than adults, if you think of a hunter gatherer tribe, a child who will eat things that don't taste right has a high chance of early death. When they have years of learning what not to eat, then their tastes change so they have more range of taste considered acceptable, which increases the odds they will survive. Our bodies still reflect that historical pattern, that's why you get kids who hate broccoli who grow up to love it, the body chemistry actually changes.  

What foods do you consider bitter?

 
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There’s some complicated chemistry going on with bitter/sour flavours. Acidic foods more often than not taste sour, alkali ones bitter. Unfortunately, many Western palates have been coerced to favour sweet and salty foods, leading to the rise in obesity and the proliferation of diseases that were once rare.

As far as bitter foods goes:

the obvious candidate are lemons (though some types are actually sweet), several Asian greens are a complex combination of bitter/umami (Perilla), green mangoes are definitely bitter but also umami, some Mediterranean herbs are bitter when fresh/dried but change composition when reversed, green tomatoes too. Papaya/Paw Paw I find bitter even when ripe, though most of the time we eat it as a component of a Vietnamese salad like the mango one.

I thank my parents for preferring bitter, sour, and savoury (umami) foods over sweet or salty ones. The much maligned Brussel Sprouts is my favourite vegetable – at the dinner table I’d swap typically sweet peas and beans with my siblings!

All of us, right down to Great Grand Kids, were raised on what a lot of people would consider ‘strange’ diets – as babies we'd be given a meatless chicken curry drumstick to suck on, and by about 18 month olds we would happily eat dill pickles and other such stuff, no doubt producing beneficial gut bacteria and giving us an ‘educated’ palate. (We're very much a multicultural/racial foodie family!)

After all that food talk, now I’m hungry!
 
pollinator
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This is a subject that my family debates often. I don't like bitter, or at least things that I consider bitter. So, not a fan of bitter greens, beer, french roast coffee, eggplant, bitter cucumbers, the pith on citrus fruits (and therefore, dishes with cooked citrus). But I don't perceive dark chocolate as bitter, just more chocolate-y. I regularly eat 86% dark chocolate.

My understanding is that there are different substances that can cause a bitter flavor and we can perceive these differently.

I wouldn't call a cured olive bitter, but fresh off the tree they are.

I don't consider brussels sprouts or any of the cruciferous vegetables bitter, just sulphur-y. They definitely don't play well with others, but it's more scent based than anything else.
 
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I wouldn't use a child to determine the good vs bad taste of something. I was 3 when I drank a bottle of shoe polish. My brother regularly was punished for eating the soap. And I grew up loving kosher and dill pickles....I would eat them like other people would eat an apple.

Turmeric....I find it bitter but my neighbor says it's just spicy,
Brussels sprouts....they taste sweet to me. Others say that it's bitter.
Endive and escarole .....hubby finds it bitter. I don't taste the bitterness at all.
Olives taste fine, no bitterness at all.
 
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On my farm, many green leafy vegetables develop bitterness as a response to hot temperatures and low humidity. Those same species are not bitter if bought from the grocery store: Things like kale, lettuce, etc.
 
pollinator
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Su Ba wrote:I wouldn't use a child to determine the good vs bad taste of something. I was 3 when I drank a bottle of shoe polish. My brother regularly was punished for eating the soap.


I am thrilled/shocked to see that some other child ate soap voluntarily (and glad we all lived to adulthood, now that I think about these things....). I ate a lot of weird things as a kid too, and today i think I would consider myself to have a pretty decent palate.

I love bitter things. Bitter melon, strong bitter beers, bitter greens in my salad, medicinal herbs that are hard for most people to stomach, i am even just fine with medications with a really bitter taste (aspirin, i'm talking to you). I am not sure I have ever had something that was "too bitter" (one of my favorite beers is the mythical "1000 IBUs", which is an impossible bitterness level to achieve but it is delightfully bitter.)
 
Pearl Sutton
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Heh, reading the responses, I was a crayons and glue eater :)

Thank you all for input, keep it coming, I'm learning!!
:D

Edit: It's actually weirder, I ate the crayons just as a side effect of lathe turning crayons in my teeth... I made cool pretty colored things like lathe turned table legs. I kept the good ones :D
The glue, that's just tasty :) mmmm... paste... :D
 
pollinator
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Hmmm I've never heard of lemons described as bitter before.  I always thought they were just sour.

Cruciferous veg taste sweet to me, unless it's too hot and dry. Then they just lose some of their sweetness and get stronger tasting. Not bitter though.

My husband can't even eat eggplant it's so bitter for him, but I can't taste the slightest hint of it.

Beer, good olive oil, cocoa all taste bitter to me, but in a good way. Sometimes greens get more bitter than I like, but I'll still eat them.

Grapefruit is the one thing I can't handle. Occasionally my husband will get me to try one saying, here this one's not bitter at all. But it always tastes disgustingly bitter to me. Interestingly, there's a semi local company that makes a grapefruit radler I really like. I guess the hops bitterness in the beer disguises the grapefruit bitterness in the juice enough for me.
 
pollinator
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Jan, IF you want to try grapefruit one more time, (assuming you haven't tried this already) the next time he offers one that's "sweet," remove the thin skin/white completely from the section so all you're eating is the internal juicy "meat" of the grapefruit and eat that.  In my experience, that is the sweetest you will ever get and it can be better amazing.  But I do like grapefruit.

I agree it is bitter, as well as some greens, but most are either sweet or appetizing in some way to me.  Bitter is definitely a difficult flavor to quantify.  Most of the foods mentioned in this thread don't taste bitter to me.

On a side note, I used to really hate cilantro but I acquired a taste for it after some exposure and now I like it (although I never buy/add it to the food I cook, I only have it in food others cook).
 
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Cocoa nibs. Or is it cacao nibs? Anyway, my brother is doing the keto thing, and was crunching away one evening after supper and said to me "cocoa nibs?" with a raised eyebrow. I said "sure". As he sprinkles the small, dark, rattling chunks into my hands he says "they're kinda bitter, but they're good for you". I tossed the small handful of nibbins into my pie hole and took to chewing on them. I said "yeah they sure are" with an open mouthfull of the turds of satan. A few gulps of water got the unpalatable mass down the hatch but did little for the lingering aftertaste.
 
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As Joseph said,  things like kale get very bitter in hot weather,  to the point I won't eat them.  Brussels sprouts are bitter but i like them.  As mentioned, i found my taste changed as i got older,  and i was never a picky eater growing up.  I've acquired a taste for sour,  bitter,  and spicier foods than before.  You would still have to put a gun to my head to make me eat a tomato, and with liver,  you may as well just shoot and save the time you would have spent threatening.  I don't find either of them bitter,  but certainly vile.
 
Sonja Draven
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Trace Oswald wrote: with liver,  you may as well just shoot and save the time you would have spent threatening.  I don't find either of them bitter,  but certainly vile.


I understand why you hate it but... My mom used to make liver and onions when I was a kid and I always liked it fine with ketchup to disguise the liver taste.  In more recent years she really perfected it with lightly cooked grass-fed beef liver, lots of sauteed onions and organic/local bacon.  Tasted so good, no ketchup needed.
 
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