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All About Bitters: Fast and Fun Facts

Everything you've ever wondered about taste.

All About Bitters: Fast and Fun Facts

What exactly are Bitters?

Bitters: Bitters are a liquid extraction of seeds, herbs, bark, roots, flowers, leaves and fruit of various plants dissolved in alcohol or glycerin. They are highly concentrated and are used by the dash as a flavor enhancement to cocktails, soft beverages and foods. They typically have a bitter or bittersweet flavor.

Fun Facts about the Human Palate

  • The human palate has 10,000 taste buds (50 to 150 taste receptors per taste bud)
  • It is a myth that taste buds are broken up into sections of the tongue.
  • Bitter is the most complex taste sensory humans have (25 different taste receptors)
  • By not addressing bitters on the palate you are not using 20% of the tongue’s capacity for taste.

The Science and Signals of Tasting

These tastes signal to the body that you are:

  • Sweet – getting ready to take in carbohydrates
  • Salty – getting ready to experience minerals
  • Umami – getting ready to take in protein
  • Sour – eating something rotten
  • Bitter – eating something poisonous

The Science of Scent

  • Bitters are aromatic in nature and therefore help enhance taste through smell.
  • The human nose has 10,000 more smell receptors than the taste receptors on the tongue.
  • The nose also tells us what we are tasting because smell is directly linked to the part of our brain that stores memory.
  • Bitter and sweet taste receptors are basically structured the same, therefore bitter and sweet often complement each other.

A Bitter Sweet Symphony of Flavour

  • Adds additional flavour and complexity to a drink
  • Intensifies flavour in other ingredients
  • Counteracts the acidic content of citrus juice
  • Decreases the harshness of raw spirits

Bitters – A Healthy Elixir

  • Increases balance and flavour to light beverages
  • Cleanses the palate
  • Increases appetite
  • Helps digest

Ever wanted to know how to cook with bitters? View our delicious recipe for Garlic Prawns and zesty Fish Sandi’s here. 

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