Sour, tangy, and refreshing, lemons are a beloved citrus fruit that adds a zesty kick to countless dishes and beverages. However, if you’ve ever taken a bite into a lemon only to be met with an unexpected bitter taste, you may find yourself wondering, “Why are lemons bitter?”
In this intriguing exploration, we delve into the fascinating reasons behind the bitterness of lemons, uncovering the secrets hidden within their vibrant yellow peel and juicy flesh. Prepare to embark on a citrus-filled journey that will unravel the mysteries of this tantalizing fruit and leave you with a newfound appreciation for its unique flavor profile. Get ready to squeeze out the answers and discover the sour truth behind why lemons sometimes take a bitter twist.
Why Are Lemons Bitter?
1. Green Lemons Taste Bitter
The lemons taste bitter when they are unripe. Green lemons are still not mature and their taste is different compared to ripe ones.
Sometimes strong winds blow and lemon fruits might fall into the ground. And there are times that people prune their lemon trees and they unintentionally cut those branches with fruits. Growers don’t want to throw them away and they still want to consume them, even green.
In order for the lemons to not taste bitter, you should pick them when ripe. Lemons don’t ripen well off the tree. You need to wait for them to turn yellow-green or completely yellow.
Picking green lemons and ripening them at the counter or any storage is not great and the taste will be different.
2. Lemons Are Not Completely Ripe
The lemon fruits that are still green on some parts may taste a little bit bitter. You need to let the fruits ripen well before picking them. The lemons will have great taste even though they are not completely ripe but if you need to wait for a few weeks before getting them. It takes around 4 months to a year from flowers until the fruits ripen.
If you take them while still green, they will be hard to ripen off the tree. The taste will be different and the bitter taste will be tasted. So it is better to wait them to ripen.
3. Lemons Are Not Fresh
When you leave the lemons on the counter, they will only last for around 4 days to a week. It will get hard and the juice quality will change. The temperature on the counter is hot and it makes the juice evaporate into the air.
There are open pores on the fruit skin and the water gets out from those holes. If you want to prevent lemons from getting hard and bitter you need to store them properly.
Placing lemons inside the fridge will make them last around two or more weeks. They will not taste bitter when the juice is preserved. Another way is to put them inside a ziplock bag. Placing them first inside a ziplock before putting them in a fridge can make them last for about 3 to 4 weeks or more.
Another reason is the bitter taste of lemon is caused by the peel. When you are squeezing the fruits, the water on the peel is also extracted. There is a white part on the peel called pith which has a bitter taste.
How Do You Get The Bitterness Out Of The Lemon?
How do you make bitter lemons not bitter? If you want to get the bitterness out of the lemon you can add one-two tablespoons of sugar or honey.
The sugar and honey are sweet and when you mix them into lemons it will change the taste. It will be a little bit better compared to lemons alone.
Another way is to add salt. Salt tastes salty and adding them to lemons will lessen the bitter taste. Aside from salt, you can also use vinegar.
Also, try to keep quality juice by not letting the fruits dry out. Keep them in a cool place to make them last longer. Dehydrated fruits will not taste great.
Are Lemon Peels Bitter?
Yes, lemon peels taste bitter. There is a part in the lemon that tastes bitter. The outer colored part of the peel is used as a zest. The zest is not bitter and it is commonly used to mix in some dishes like cake. The white part which is called pith is the part that tastes bitter. There are lemons with thick and thin peels.
Some people like to eat fruit including its peel. They like the taste and they crave to eat them. Lemons with thin peels taste bitter compared to thick ones.
Some people like to dip lemons in salt to add flavor and lessen the bitter taste of the peel. If you like to eat the peel, you need to buy organic lemons.
Chemicals like pesticides and insecticides might be stuck on the peel and you need to remove them by thoroughly washing them.
How Do You Keep Lemon Water From Being Bitter?
To keep lemon water from being bitter you should squeeze the lemon gently. The reason why it becomes bitter is that the liquid coming from the skin is being extact. The skin of lemon has two parts the outer and inner layers.
The inner layer (the color white part or called pith) is the part that makes the juice bitter. Commonly most cook remove this part to prevent the juice from getting bitter.
Also, don’t squeeze the lemons too hard or you can use a citrus juicer. This tool extracts the juice in a gentle manner which doesn’t include much of the pith liquid.
Conclusion: Why Are Lemons Bitter?
In conclusion, the bitterness of lemons can be attributed to several factors. Green lemons, which are unripe, tend to taste bitter compared to ripe ones. It is important to pick lemons when they are fully ripe, as they do not ripen well off the tree. Additionally, leaving lemons on the counter for too long can result in a bitter taste, as the juice evaporates and the fruit hardens.
Proper storage, such as refrigeration or placing them in a ziplock bag, can help maintain their freshness and prevent bitterness. The bitter taste can also be attributed to the peel, specifically the white pith. Removing or reducing the amount of pith when extracting juice can help alleviate bitterness. Furthermore, adding sugar, honey, salt, or vinegar can help counteract the bitterness and improve the taste. It is worth noting that lemon peels are bitter, particularly the pith, and should be consumed with caution. Overall, understanding the factors that contribute to the bitterness of lemons allows for better enjoyment of their refreshing flavor in various culinary applications.