Where has all the bitterness gone?

By 19. October 2015Blog, Taste

Taken by breeders everyone? That is an interesting question and one that was the subject of an article recently in the New Scientist magazine and on BBC radio 4’s Food Programme.

So how has this all come about? Both reports mention the white grapefruit. Apparently, this was the grapefruit type that was available in days of old and was so bitter that it was almost impossible to have it without sugar. But think about the varieties available today.

As I write this I am happily munching away on one and I have to say, although its more bitter than an orange for instance, I do not feel a need to reach for the sugar. And that seems to be the problem. Plant breeders have picked up on our dislike for bitterness and are reducing in our crops. Just think about aubergines, these used to be salted to remove or reduce the bitterness but this is not really necessary with today’s varieties. But should we be removing these phytonutrients (the components responsible for the bitterness) from our foods?

Both the podcast and the magazine article are full of information and I will leave you with what I found the most interesting. Purchased orange juice tends to have more phytonutrients  than the home made freshly squeezed variety because they squeeze as much juice out as possible and so also get some of the oils from the citrus skin also going in to the juice.

So next time you squeeze an orange for juice maybe you should think about crushing that peel a bit, or perhaps make yourself a non alcoholic caipirinha or mojito….

And if you are wondering what exactly are phytonutrients, this will be the subject of the next blog.

Click here to read more from the New Scientist website.

Click here to listen to the podcast from the BBC.