Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oh No! The Soup or Sauce is Bitter/Salty

When Your Soup or Sauce Taste Bitter or Salty:  I bet there’s been a time when you followed an award winning recipe to the letter; you carefully measured each and every ingredient and yet , when you tasted it, your mouth cringed in horror.  Don’t panic and don’t toss it out because there are a few tricks that can counteract the bitter/salty taste and set things right.
  • Bitter Taste:Try adding a PINCH of salt and letting it simmer a few minutes before tasting.  Add a TINY bit more if needed.
  • Bitter Taste:If the salt did not alter the flavor to your liking, then add a SMALL amount of either brown/white sugar or honey.  Add a small amount more if needed.  (This works best for green vegetable or tomato soups/sauces)
  • Salty Taste:If you used pre-packaged ingredients which contain sodium and then added your own salt, you may find the taste too salty.  To counter the salt, add a SMALL amount of either brown/white sugar or honey.  Add a small amount more if needed.
  • Salty Taste:Peel and chop one to three potatoes (depending on quantity of soup) into 2” chunks.  Add to the soup and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove and discard the potato chunks prior to serving.
  • Bitter Taste:Add aromatic vegetables such as onions and garlic.  Allow them time to cook so their natural oils and flavors will release into your soup/sauce.
  • Bitter Taste:If the salt and sugar did not work, add a SMALL amount of olive oil or butter to the soup/sauce.  The oil will coat your tongue and help cover up the bitterness (personally this is my last resort)
  • Bitter Taste with Cream Based Soup/Sauces:Simply add more cream to dilute the bitterness or salty taste.
What Can Cause the Bitter Taste?: 
  • ALCOHOL – If you are cooking with alcohol and it is bitter after the alcohol has burned off, try adding more stock/broth prior to using the steps above.
  • HERBS& SPICES – Many of these will grow bitter the longer they simmer. Use sparingly until you know how your taste buds will react to them.  Add your black pepper or peppercorns the last 5-10 minutes of cooking because this can easily turn any soup/sauce bitter.
  • GARLIC – Fresh garlic is very intense in flavor so use sparingly. If the cloves have a green center, remove prior to pressing as these are extremely bitter.  If you are not comfortable with fresh garlic then substitute 2 teaspoons of garlic powder for every clove (again try adding in small amounts until you are satisfied with the flavor)
  • VEGETABLES – Many vegetables like celery and leeks will turn bitter if they are overcooked. Try adding them the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • GREENS – Set a timer so you don’t simmer greens for longer than 1 hour. Any longer and they can become bitter.
NOTE:  Make your soups and sauces in small batches and keep a journal so you can annotate what you used and the exact amount.  In addition you can alter the recipe to incorporate some of the tips above so they are simply part of your standard recipe.  Remember:  Practice makes perfect!

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