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Jul 5, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose

The way in which you process ingredients, especially those containing oil, has a profound effect on the flavor.

Garlic for example, if squeezed through a press rather than minced by hand will be bitter.

The oil in garlic is particularly temperamental. If garlic is heated until golden it takes on a fantastic flavor. If it becomes brown it metamorphoses into a truly nasty acrid smell and taste which is probably part of the reason it is sometimes referred to as "the stinking rose"!

I learned many years ago from the late Barbara Tropp, who sadly died far too young, that washing an orange or lemon with detergent and then rinsing thoroughly with water, would make a huge difference to the flavor of the zest.


you're absolutely right--tested as supertaster for bitter by tim hanai himself! just goes to show taste really is subjective.


I'm with Patrincia about the garlic. I never taste bitterness in pressed garlic, or the green sprouts. But garlic allowed to brown when cooking tastes horrible.

Pressed garlic has a much fuller flavor to me. Stronger and more pungent, yes, but I love that. In fact, I press several heads of garlic for my basic everyday cooking every week. I bring my garlic press with me when I travel.

Having read a couple of Rose's books now, I get the feeling that she's one of those supertasters for bitter.


General rule of thumb for garlic - the smaller the pieces, the stronger the flavor.

Just to add my 2 cents - I don't discern any bitter flavor from green garlic sprouts, pressed garlic, or even smashed garlic. The only time garlic tastes bitter to me is when it's been over cooked.


Gene, you bring up an interesting point, and I wonder if I have a similar taste "deficiency." I never notice bitterness when I use a press--although I do tend to use less garlic if it has been pressed. I guess I would say it tastes stronger but not bitter.

The first time I heard about this was Alice Waters on Julia, and I wondered the same thing then because I never noticed the bitterness.


gene Russell
gene Russell
07/10/2008 12:01 AM

I agree with the whole lemon thing. Do they wax the organic fruit? I have never been able to get a straight answer from produce people on that. I have been washing them for years. I use a so called "vegetable wash" which claims to rinse off more readily. Touch of skepticism there but it isn't an expensive product.

Now this garlic thing. My wife isn't too happy right now because I have been experimenting. With garlic. I have heard many chefs say that the green part of old garlic is bitter. I have eaten a lot of the green parts and I don't detect any particular bitterness. I have also tried slices of garlic. One I macerated with my thumb and let stand for 2 minutes. The other I simply took a bite from. I can't taste any difference. Most garlic presses are aluminum maybe the bitterness comes from chemical reaction with aluminum. I don't use a press. I either macerate with a heavy knife or if I need salt also I sprinkle the diced garlic with salt and use the sharpness of the salt grains to puree the garlic. A chemist friend suggested that the salt may also break down the cell walls releasing more garlic. I am not enough of a chemist to say whether this is true or not. But its a theory. Maybe I just don't taste bitter as strongly as some people?


Agreed, you may loose just a little bit of the essential oils with a quick washing in hot water, but most will remain. That's what I've found, at least.


Again, there is plenty essential oils inside cell walls of the lemon. Detergent won't break the cell wall as long as you keep the cell walls intact without cuts or scratches.


What about washing it with some hot water to remove the wax?I tried once and the smell of lemon manisfests immediately but I was afraid that the essential oil was washed away.


Washing with detergent is to remove the wax that ALL lemons and oranges are covered when going to the market.

It won't remove essential oils as long as you don't scrape hard or squeeze. Essential oils in plants are trapped inside hard cell walls and not float on top like transpiration in human skin. When you zest, scrape hard, or squeeze, then you break the cell walls releasing the essential oils.


does the washing help with the taste or deter from it? Because I could imagine essential oils being washed out....


In addition to a good scrub with soap and a veggie brush, I find a little vinegar can help to remove the wax too.


YES, you need detergent to dissolve the wax that is often coated in oranges and lemons.


I wondered about the lemon/lime zest thing. I made strawberry lemonade bars from another blog (Baking Bites) and as I was zesting the lemon I wondered if it had been waxed before coming to market. Next time I need zest I will try this washing method and see if it makes a difference!



Interesting ... but is the change a good one?



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