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Early fall broccoli rapini

Nov 01, 2010

 I tasted some of my early fall rapini the other day. Bleck! I had to spit it out it was so bitter! I had to think twice about what I attempted to eat… thinking perhaps I mistakenly ate a weed. But no, it was definitely rapini.

I dug around the internet to try and find some information about what I may have done to cause it to turn bitter, and evidently that is just how it is. You’re supposed to blanch it and then cook it. Even then, folks said, it can still taste bitter.

Sure would’ve been nice to know that beforehand. I sure wish there was more extensive information on growing and using the vegetables when I buy seed. I understand you can’t fit all that info on a seed pack but it would be a cinch to do that on a website. Instead I have to find out the hard way.

Evidently my goats don't mind the bitter taste as they got out of their yard and ate much of my crop. It may grow back soon and then I can cook it to see how it tastes. 


Here&rsquo;s Rapini from Google images ... I searched &ldquo;health effects of bitter vegetables&rdquo; & found a pretty good discussion @ As hunter-gatherers, humans have evolved over time to benefit from bitters & the bitter taste is now key to the health support - &ldquo;The stomach responds to bitters even before they arrive in it. Alerted by the taste receptors, the stomach produces all sorts of digestive juices, which start breaking down fats and proteins in the foods we eat.&rdquo; &ldquo;While it's true that you won't taste the bitterness through a capsule, you also won't get the same results this way. The stomach won't act in the same way as if you took <ate> the actual bitters because it will be sent a signal that a capsule is on the way, and the digestive requirements are different.&rdquo; This summary of bitters-uses reminded me of the uses of Purslane & international Tomato receipes that Roger has posted - &ldquo;Bitters enjoy a rather limited popularity in North America, but are quite popular in Europe. Herbal aperitifs, such as the elecampane cordial, are still used to kick off the evening meal in many northern European homes. Greeks dine daily on horta, a bitter mix of chicory and dandelion greens sprinkled with olive oil. The French and Italians are certainly no strangers to bitter herbs. Even today, many families enjoy steamed or fried greens such as dandelion every day. The ritual Jewish Passover meal, eaten by Jewish people the world over, includes bitters (in biblical times, these were probably hyssop, wild lettuce, chicory, dandelion and sorrel). In Germany gentian's distant relative, centaury, is used to make a popular bitter drink. And in North America, we drink bitters without even knowing it. The primary ingredient in beer is the digestive bitter known as hops. Other bitters include goldenseal, Oregon grape root and blessed thistle." The use of bitters in Asian & Aurvedic food traditions is well-documented & perhaps Salma can comment readily. For example, Kale is on her Seeds Wish List & Kale is considered one of the bitter vegetables - with usually less bitter bite than Rapini. My favorite way to introduce bitters per se to children comes from Maria Treben's slim, beautifully-illustrated book, Health from God's Garden. She recommends eating up to ten organic Dandylion stems per day - for the bitter white sappy juices. I find that children will eat Dandylion stems with the same interest that your goats gave your Rapini, Amy. :-)
Hmm... that is interesting. I know that some people are more sensitive to bitter tastes. What I wonder is if children are more sensitive to bitter flavors and if tastebuds evolve over their lifetime.
- that humans inherit the genes to develop all of the taste buds but they become psychologically & then physiologically conditioned to prefer their earliest familiar tastes, their "comfort foods." It's a mixture & sequence of nature/nurture. Maybe unused tastebud potentials atrophy - yet another "use it or lose it!" So children easily develop a taste for fresh vegetables along with the fun they have gardening or playing alongside gardeners. Co-nibbling on a few Dandylion stems with a toddler can introduce bitters to developing taste-buds & brain-receptors. Never a dull moment in the garden! :-) And even earlier, there is good research suggesting that children tend to prefer the taste of foods their mother ate while they were in utero.
Hmmm... well I've partially noticed what you've just mentioned, and I've been giving vegetables to my kiddo for a long time. He seems to have a very sensitive palate. He notices very quickly which items are too bitter and doesn't want to eat. For example, if broccoli is fresh (therefore retaining all of its sugar content), bitter outer stalk peeled, he loves it. He loves peas if they are fresh and corn. He likes petite, raw green beans if they are right from the vine, but he would hate me if I gave him dandelion stems!
The scene I will repaint from life goes like this ... you are in the garden with children playing nearby & when you sit down to talk to them or share a snack, after awhile you pick a Dandylion & look at it together ... great details up close ... Dandylion pollen & bee info to share ... & then you start nibbling on it ... eating it! Most children I know will be curious & want to know what that's about?! Most children I know will want to try that too ... girls no less than boys. :-)
so true Jessica - they say that a good salad has all the flavours and textures, smooth, rough, bitter, sour. i think we dont expose ourselves to enough new tastes and textures.
And Amy, I want to express my admiration for your introducing your son to lots of garden fresh vegetables & your being tactfully sensitive to his preferences & thus nurturing his emerging food adventurousness. He's a lucky boy. :-) Although I love setting the stage to introduce children to excellent new experiences, I would consider it a sin to fault a child for saying "No thanks" or "I don't like that" to anything I offered, since learning to express being your own person is also invaluable.
I think he's doing a good job with his eating choices. I mean, when pea season comes around, you should see how many raw peas he can down. This year, we didn't grow enough, and I had to go to a nearby u-pick farm. I picked 20 pounds of peas that day. We were out of peas again in a few days. My little boy will sit there and pluck every single little pea out of its shell. He doesn't care for the pod, edible or not. That's ok, I will eat that part, and when I get sick of eating them my goats or the rabbits get a special treat.
You are making beautiful memories. And if there are any pea pods left after browsing by children, adults, goats & rabbits, there is always the recent Recipe for Pea Pod Wine from allotmentmanyork, or Glenn. Only on KGI! :-)

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