Bitter is Better

Most fresh veggies contain the bitter taste

Most vegetables give us the bitter taste, along with pungency and/or astringency. The char adds even more bitterness. Photo by Rachel Clark on Unsplash

When you imagine what bitters taste like, do you recoil with disgust as you remember those past-their-prime greens still sitting in your fridge or the only thing you hate about dark chocolate?

Most of us don’t favor the bitter taste on its own, but it has long been known to be one of the most important flavors around. Consider that:

  • In Europe, bitter liqueurs are regularly enjoyed before (aperitif) or after (digestif) meals for improved digestion. Bittersweet Italian herbal liqueurs called amaros are enjoyed the world over.
  • Ayurveda, India’s traditional medical system, recommends bitter as one of the six important tastes (rasas) to have at every meal.
  • In the formative years of the cocktail bar, medicinal bitters were used in drinks to “soften” the harshness of hard liquor to make it easier to drink.

Today, the craft cocktail world is teeming with exciting new bitters to add to your next adult beverage. But did you know you can also enjoy bitters in non-alcoholic drinks? Bitters work on digestion even if you take them in your water, tea or juice. Bonus: they have a cooling effect on the body so enjoy an extra dropper full on hot summer days.

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