Most people’s mouths water at the thought of sweet, juicy peaches, melons, cherries, and pears, just to name a few. In contrast, bitter fruits make our jaws ache and our lips pucker up. But all the key players on this bitter fruits list have a ton of health benefits for us, regardless of how loudly they make us shriek.
Shall we take a look at a few of them? You may have already tasted a few of these before, but others might offer new, intriguing flavors for you to explore.
1. Bitter Melon
Unless you were raised with a variety of Asian fruits and vegetables, you may not have encountered bitter melon before. It looks like a cucumber with a terrifying skin condition, and it tastes like pure bitterness in crunchy form. Like other Cucurbitaceae fruits—such as its cucumber and squash cousins—it’s packed with anti-inflammatory properties. It also has crazy amounts of vitamins C and K, which help fight off illnesses and speed wound healing.
Related Article: Best Fruits for Smoothies: 5 Fruits That Go Well Together in a Smoothie
2. Bitter Cherries
Also known as Oregon cherries, these ruby red beauties grow wild all down the coast of the Pacific Northwest, from southern BC to northern California. They look like a cross between regular cherries and goji berries, and taste like your most bitter memory of teenaged romantic rejection. You can eat them sweetened if you really want to, but they have some pretty intense laxative qualities, so be forewarned.
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These saucy little gems are both tart and bitter, which is why they’re usually sweetened for use in most dishes. They also have some of the highest antioxidant levels that you’ll find in any berry. That kind of anti-aging power really counteracts their bitterness, doesn’t it? Interestingly, fruits that are bitter are almost always really healthy for us. If you’d like the health benefits of cranberry juice, try to find organic, sugar-free options, if possible.
Related Article: What Does Cranberry Juice Taste Like?
Anyone who has picked a crabapple off a tree and bitten into it will likely understand why these tend to be yeeted at passersby, rather than eaten. But like several other fruits that are bitter, they’re really high in vitamins A, D, C, calcium, and iron. These are spectacular for overall health and well-being. They’re also really high in pectin, so you can boil them down and use them to help set homemade jams and jellies.
Recommended Article: 10 Fruits High in Pectin for Jam (or Jelly!) Making
Eggplants, also known as aubergines, are in fact fruits, just like tomatoes and peppers. Most chefs salt and rinse their eggplants before cooking it to draw out and remove their inherent bitterness. Apparently, however, juicing it fresh has some spectacular health benefits. Of course, savory cooked eggplant dishes are delicious, and offer many of the same benefits as their juice as well.
Further Reading: 15 Spices that Go with Aubergine/Eggplant
6. Rowan Berries
Next autumn, when you see bright orange rowan/mountain ash berries hanging heavy on their trees, try snacking on a few of them to see what they taste like. These incredibly bitter berries are packed with nutrients, but also have a really interesting flavor.
Here’s a tip: if you balk at bitterness, try picking them after a frost instead. They’ll still be quite tart, but sweeten significantly after being frozen.
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7. Citrus Fruits
We’re adding citrus fruits here as an honorable mention on this bitter fruits list, because although their flesh can be sweet or tart, their peels are astonishingly bitter. Here’s an interesting fact: the more yellow a citrus’ peel, the more bitter flavanones will be present. These are anti-inflammatory and help with weight management, which is why grapefruit in particular is so effective: it has the highest bitterness level of all the citrus fruits out there.
Related Article: 33 Fruits that are Considered Citrus
Keep in mind that fruits that are bitter are really good for you, even though they can make your jaw clench and your mouth pucker. Adding salt to the items on this bitter fruits list can temper the bitterness a bit, but try not to add too much sugar. It can counteract the health benefits that bitter foods can offer.
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