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If arugula tastes bitter or a little hotter, it is no longer edible for many people. You can prepare the rocket accordingly to reduce the bitterness.

In a nutshell

  • Rocket tastes sharp to bitter due to the mustard oils it contains
  • Mustard oils are not harmful to health
  • Storage, harvest time and leaf length are decisive for the aroma
  • do not wait too long before eating or processing
  • Water can effectively remove the bitter substances

Hot bitter arugula: causes

Garden mustard (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa) is one of the most popular plant species for salads, but it can taste too hot or too bitter for various reasons. The most common reason for the pungent taste is too long and dark storage. Ideally, arugula should be consumed or processed soon after harvest. This also applies to the time of harvest. Mustard rocket should always be harvested shortly before flowering, as the intensity of the bitter substances increases significantly after flowering. The best harvest time as follows:

  • 3 to 6 weeks after sowing
  • by September at the latest
  • not after flowering

Tip: If you are not sure when to harvest the rocket leaves, you can also pay attention to the length. A maximum length of ten centimeters is particularly recommended, because larger ones contain more mustard oils.

Remove bitter substances

If you want to enjoy the arugula with a finer aroma, wash the leaves with warm water before preparing them. To improve effectiveness, you can also soak the mustard rocket in ice water for about 30 minutes. If that takes too long for you, use sweeteners for your dressings or rocket creations, such as pesto. The sugar contained acts immediately against the spiciness and bitterness. Well suited for this are:

  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • agave syrup
  • sugar

Notice: The amount of bitter substances in the rocket can also increase if you sow seeds from the same mother plant every year. The offspring usually contain higher amounts of mustard oils, which influences the intensity of the taste.

frequently asked Questions

Are mustard oils unhealthy?

But on the contrary. Mustard oils are very healthy for the body and are even said to prevent the formation of cancer. The bitter substances contained in mustard oil decompose when consumed to form isothiocyanates, which in turn are said to have a cancer-preventive effect. In combination with the antioxidants it also contains, the mustard rocket prevents oxidative stress.

Does arugula contain potentially harmful substances?

Yes, leafy greens contain nitrate. Nitrate itself is harmless to humans and can even be consumed in large quantities. However, there is a problem when the nitrate converts to nitrite, because this substance is said to be carcinogenic. Nitrite is formed in the rocket when the leaves begin to dry out or are stored in the dark. Use the leafy greens as fresh as possible and remove the stems as they contain more nitrate.

When is the best time to buy arugula?

If you want to be on the safe side with the bitter substances, you should preferably buy rockets or their leafy vegetables in summer. The more sun the plant has received, the fresher and spicier the leaves taste without the bitter or pungent notes predominating.

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