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"Bitter" spinach... Any experienced Spanikopita Bakers out there?

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Has anyone ever noticed a bitterness in spinach/Spanikopita?
I've been asked to make Spanikopita without butter, using olive oil instead. Now the feedback is that there is a bitterness to the spinach, and I've only heard vague word of ways to get rid of that "bitterness"
Although I suspect the bitterness is due to the sole use of olive oil...
Has anyone else ever encountered bitter spinach?

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  1. Were you using the stems?

    1. No help here, but I am curious, do you still get nice browning of the filo using olive oil only?

      1. I think the bitterness is due to the olive oil. I have a recipe for baklava which also uses mostly olive oil and it is distinctly bitter compared with the butter version. I haven't tried making either with other oils which may help with the flavor.

        1. Sometimes there are stems, when in a pinch I have to use frozen spinach. This past weekend I had to use Birdeye Frozen Spinch, (Spinach now is so expensive and yucky looking!) which did contain stems, and the "organic" brands contain even more stems. I wonder if there is a realy good frozen brand to look for.
          The olive oil still creates a nice browning on the top though.

          1. Concerning the olive oil, maybe try using light or gold-colored rather than extra virgin. I find that in some cooking, evoo goes a little bitter. Plus, its flavor wouldn't really shine through in spanakopita.

            Does it have to be olive oil? Could you try a butter substitute? I know there are some made from olive oil, though I haven't tried cooking with them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kagey

              They want olive oil due to cholesterol issues. I'm curious about blended oils... maybe it's time for another thread about olive oil brands...

            2. i think that the olive oil is making it bitter here. olive oil is delicious used on salads. raw, in other words. once it is heated tho, it becomes rather volatile and actually allows a lot of free radical-production. this may lead to quite a bitter taste. i would try going with butter.
              btw, i have made spanokopita once in school. i think we used only butter. was delicious tho. also, im sure that in the NJ diners like the ticktock that i grew up with theyre using butter. prolly cuz its soooo much cheaper than olive oils, even the refined ones.

              1. Go with canola. It's also a mono-unsaturated fat like olive oil and It won't impart any flavour into your fillo and you can enjoy the essence of the spinach and cheese.

                An alternative is to do a half melted butter, half canola oil. Then you'll get some of that butter flavour without using all butter, cutting down on the saturated fats. But if you're using full fat cheese, you can get a good flavour without needing butter.

                I am in agreement that it was the olive oil that made it bitter. You won't get that from the canola oil. I use it all the time and you can't taste it even when I make a kataifi/walnut/phyllo roll that is baked in half a bottle of oil, then soaked in simple syrup.

                1. I've never had bitter spinach, either fresh or frozen. I think olive oil is too heavy. When I was teaching my then-8-yr-old daughter to make spanakopita, I had her use Pam vegetable oil spray because she couldn't handle the pastry brush. It worked and tasted great, although I still prefer the butter version when I'm making it myself.