i recently received the following comment and thought I would share it with my blog's readers because it brings up a good point for discussion, the fact that kale and other Brassica vegetables do have a bitter taste to them.
The taste of raw kale after blended, to me, is horrible; even when mixed
with fruit. I thought it was something I was doing incorrectly, so I
blended the organic kale again by itself and the horrific level increase
to the point where, after taking the lid off of the blender to smell it,
the aroma burned my nostrils as well as my eyes. After drinking the
juice/smoothie, I feel a bit nauseous. However, eating raw organic kale does
taste far more pleasant than after blended its leaves.
I have only found one (1) instance of anyone telling the truth about how
bad kale tastes as a juice.
Is this normal for Kale to taste so horrible after blending/juicing.
Well, I am here to tell you that the first time I heard about anyone putting kale in a smoothie, I thought they were kidding or desperate for some way to include kale 'hidden' in their food because I could not imagine kale 'adding' something pleasant to the taste of a smoothie. And I am someone who does not like smoothies that are too sweet, which they all were in the very beginning of the smoothie craze, way back when. In fact, I am known for putting raw or frozen unsweetened cranberries in my smoothies to cut the natural sweetness of fruit or juices.
The first time I did put kale into a smoothie (I had to have my curiosity finally overcome my inclination that the combination would be just awful), I must confess right here for all to know that I was also overwhelmed by the 'kale effect', i.e. the nearly over-powering and rather unpleasant smell of kale, when I took the top off the blender. Perhaps my reaction is what the reader's comments referred to.
However, not one to throw food away, and still very curious, I poured the smoothie into a glass and let it sit a bit, which helped to diminish and even disperse the strong smell immensely. I even had the courage to taste the smoothie at that point and found that yes, I could definitely taste kale, but it was not overpowering or unpleasant, just very green. This was a long time ago, and now I just know that 1) I do not inhale deeply when taking the top off of my blender and 2) to wait a bit before drinking my kale smoothie.
Other tips I have found to help with this situation:
1) Use less kale
2) Use baby kale
3) Use lacinato kale (this variety must have a lower level of glucosinolates or contain some other compound that counteracts the known bitterness of glucosinolates)
4) Use lightly steamed and cooled kale (I have done this with plain, no oil added, unseasoned left-over kale, which does not happen very often)
What is likely going on here is related to the fact that chemicals and sensitivity to them works both ways. Plants contain bitter molecules to keep themselves from being eaten so they can fulfill their biological destiny, meaning not get chewed to bits by insects or other animals before they have reproduced (gone to seed). We detect bitter or other 'off' (think rancid) flavors to protect ourselves so that we also can fulfill our biological destiny to the species, i.e. reproduce!
Genes are involved with our taste sensitivities and it is now known that people with two copies of a certain gene will be 'super-tasters', i.e. more likely than others to not just dislike, but outright reject eating certain plants that contain bitter or astringent molecules, which are contained in all Brassica vegetables. An article describing the details of this phenomenon is here. Remember President Bush I and his famous dislike of broccoli? He was likely a 'super-taster' with two copies of these particular genes involved with tasting bitterness.
I hope this short response answers your question. I have tried to be as truthful as I know how, both professionally and personally.
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate and is still in my smoothies, too!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD