If you’ve heard a lot of people talk about the spicy taste of arugula, you might have had really high expectations for it. Maybe you were legitimately excited to try it, only to be let down when you finally took your first bite.
Or perhaps you’ve been a fan of arugula for awhile already. Maybe you just recently purchased or grew some of your own, and the flavor has been a bit disappointing.
Either way, you could be asking yourself, why does my arugula taste so bad? The answer could be either more complex or simpler than you expected it to be.
Read on, and we’ll explain further why your arugula might be letting you down.
Quick Answer: Why Does My Arugula Taste so Bad?
The reason you’re finding arugula disgusting isn’t necessarily just one thing. It depends on a number of factors, such as when you’re eating it, where you got it from, and if you’ve eaten it before.
If you’ve never eaten arugula before and you’re sure it’s fresh, you simply might not like it. People naturally have different tastes.
So what if you’ve eaten it before, and just now it’s tasting bad? Chances are, you’re eating arugula that wasn’t picked at the ideal time.
The Main Reasons Arugula Might Taste Bad to You
Let’s examine the reasons your arugula might be less than tasty in more detail. There are three big reasons that factor in:
- The arugula you’re eating is too old.
- On the opposite end, your arugula is too young.
- You might just be predisposed to disliking the taste.
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You’re eating arugula that’s past its prime.
Unfortunately, arugula isn’t good to eat as long as it’s growing – quite the opposite, actually, since it grows really fast.
As a general rule, the older arugula is, the bitterer it gets. And when it bolts, you can pretty much forget about it, because that’s when it’s at the most bitter stage of all.
There’s kind of an ideal spot for picking arugula. This can be when the leaves are anywhere from three to five inches in length, or a couple weeks of growth. That’s when it tastes the best.
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The arugula you’re eating is too young.
Inversely, the arugula that’s putting you off might be too young. Just as arugula gets increasingly bitter with age, it get milder the younger it is.
This mild flavor might actually be the preference for some. However, if you’ve had mature arugula before and enjoy its spiciness, baby arugula could fall short of your expectations. It may seem like nothing more than a shadow of its full potential.
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You are genetically predisposed to dislike the flavor.
Research within the past few years has shown that your very DNA can play a role in the foods you like. Very famously, it was found that many people think cilantro tastes like soap.
Similar concepts can apply to arugula. If you don’t like it no matter how many times you try and no matter how fresh it is, it might just be that your genetic makeup makes you disinclined to like the taste.
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Your taste buds could have an influence here, too. Some people have more taste buds than others, which means some things will taste stronger to them than it would to other people.
That means the opposite holds true, too: some with fewer taste buds might find that a flavorful food is actually kind of lackluster.
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Food isn’t the same experience for everyone. Even if you had multiple people sampling from the same dish, they could each have their own opinion on the taste.
Arugula is no different. One person can love it at the same time another person hates it. This might be because you need to eat arugula harvested at the optimal time, or it might be for no reason other than you simply don’t like it.
If you’re curious to read a detailed account of what arugula is supposed to taste like, you can read about it here.