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Why Is Kale Bitter?

Kales are leafy vegetables packed with several important nutrients, including fiber, minerals, vitamins and they offer several health benefits.

However, this vegetable is disliked by some because of its taste.

Together with broccoli, Kale belongs to the cruciferous family, a family of plants that are known for their bitter taste.

The leaves of kale are rich in substances known as glucosinolates.

When the leaves are chewed, glucosinolates react with an enzyme and produces a group of active metabolites known as isothiocynates, and that gives off a bitter taste 

Nonetheless, there are various techniques of reducing this bitterness and to help you appreciate the rich flavor of kale better.

So If there anything that would keep you from adding kale to your diet, it should not be the bitter taste.

Kale cold be eaten raw, boiled, sautéed or used in soups and salads, producing food that are rich in flavour and delicious.

In this post we are going to discuss what makes kale has a bitter taste.

What makes kale bitter?

The process that leads to the formation of bitter taste in kale occurs when they are chewed.

Vegetables like Kales contain myrosinase enzymes and glucosinolates within their cells.

Glucosinolates are sulphur containing compounds. When the kale leaves are injured or chewed, the cell is disrupted and the compounds myrosinase and glucosinolates are released from the cells.

The myrosinase enzyme hydrolysis the glucosinolates, and when this reaction occurs, it produces a group of biologically active compounds which are known as isothiocynates

Isothiocynates give off the bitter taste in kales.

Read; Types of sweet onions

Way to reduce the bitterness of kale

Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable, and the bitter taste shouldn’t discourage you from having some of this amazing vegetable in your diet.

So how do chefs reduce the bitterness of kale before using them in their recipes?

Some technique can help reduce the bitterness of kale and make you appreciate their flavour better, and It can be through either of the following ways:


A method often used to reduce the bitterness in kale is by gently massaging them.

The process of massaging helps to release the bitterness in kale leaves after which it is rinsed off.

Also, Massaging kale helps to soften the leaves making them easier to chew. When it comes to texture massaging the kale leaves helps to make the kales softer.

Add sweet flavors

Adding other flavors to kale can help to reduce the bitter taste of kale.

Some recipes makes use of olive oil,  garlic, spices, or salt to tame this bitter flavor of kale.

Boiling/cooking kale

Boiling kale also helps releasing some of the bitterness from the leaves, and this can make the kale much appealing to eat for those who find it pungent.

This is because cooking kale may lead to the degradation of the myronisase enzymes contained within the cells

Myronisase enzymes are the enzymes which is responsible for the reaction that produces a bitter taste.

Kale nutrition

Kale is rich in important nutrients, especially vitamins minerals, and antioxidant.

This vegetables  an excellent source of vitamin k, vitamin C,  and also rich in vitamin A, vitamin B6, B5, folate, minerals such as manganese, magnesium, calcium and iron.

Kale is low in calories and carbs but contain good amount of fiber and proteins.

It also contains numerous antioxidants.

In conclusion

Kales are closely related to vegetables like cabbages, arugula and broccoli.

The bitter taste of kale and other vegetables in this group is as a result of isothiocyanates which is produced by the action of myronisase enzyme on glucosinolates.

However, the bitter taste of kales can be reduced by massaging them and also through other means.