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Mar 17, 2012 12:17 AM

Guacamole - Bitter!?

Have made a batch of Guacamole --

Avocado - definitely ripe
Lemon juice
Garlic cloves (maybe a bit too much)
Worcestershire sauce
Tomato powder - home-made
Cilantro powder - home-made
Salt (iodized)
Black pepper - fresh ground

Stir-stick blended

Was bitter - quite.

Looked up possible remedies - added a bit of sugar syrup. No help. (Seems 'bitter guacamole' is a general problem)


Only hint of 'why' I get is possible interaction of citric acid and the iodine from the salt - but am a chemical engineer and the Iodine is already there in a 'salt compound' form so would taste bitter on its own (the salt) so don't understand the possible reaction with citric acid from the lemon - and don't even see the possibility of a further reaction.


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  1. If the garlic had a green center that can be bitter, I often remove the core of garlic for this very reason. But that doesn't necessarily mean it was the problem, just could contribute.

    1. I'd go easy or even eliminate some of the ingredients

      Garlic cloves (maybe a bit too much) - yeah some are good, if you're really worried roast them a little first
      /Shallots - ehh they taste like a cross between onion and garlic so seem superfluous
      /Worcestershire sauce - wha? that's a lot of salt right there
      /Tomato powder - home-made - wha?
      /Cilantro powder - home-made - sorry fresh chopped leaves and stems or nothing and really it should go in the nearby pico de gallo with the fresh tomato, hot pepper and onion not this (come-lately purist with all the zealous passion of a convert, sorry)
      /Salt (iodized) - iodized salt is FAR more bitter than sea or kosher - I like salty things but made that mistake once. don't really know how much you'd want to put in ahead, it's always easy to mix that in later to taste esp. in an uncooked paste like guac.

      IMHO this is a simple thing and while I want really want to go wild, I rein myself in. after the subtractions I suggested, one might swap lime juice for the lemon. (either help the flavor and keep it from turning brown fast)

      Guacamole ought to be a somewhat bland thing anyway, sort of a soothing thing like a chlorophyllic non-dairy mayo - why I suggest dropping the W sauce, salt and shallots

      4 Replies
      1. re: hill food

        Garlic cloves (maybe a bit too much) - yeah some are good, if you're really worried roast them a little first

        roasting - good idea - (weren't green at all)

        /Shallots - ehh they taste like a cross between onion and garlic so seem superfluous

        these shallots very mild - no hint of garlic

        /Worcestershire sauce - wha? that's a lot of salt right there

        was just a small dash - but yes - could otherwise leave out - but def not a contributor to bitterness

        /Tomato powder - home-made - wha?

        marvelous stuff! - I dry great cherry tomatoes - then grind to a powder - been doing for years and MUCH tastier than paste and very easy to use - and keeps wonderfully! - amazed not a commercial product except in very rare places (did get some once from a Calif company - American Spice?)

        /Cilantro powder - home-made - sorry fresh chopped leaves and stems

        in this case - self-made has been fantastic - eg - when I add water and make a paste - DAMN close to if I had made a paste of fresh leaves

        /Salt (iodized) - iodized salt is FAR more bitter than sea or kosher -

        been doing a lot of 'salt tasting' - from salt pans in France and Slovenia - various Maldons etc - and this salt used is mineral salt (low Na) from Jozo - and have noticed no bitterness over the many years in use

        Thanks for all the comments - but actually still don't understand where the bitterness is coming from. Must be alchemy in practice :-)

        1. re: jounipesonen

          I stand in awe. you've done one heck of a lot of homework, I am of no help at this point. (but post back when you find the right combination, I'm happy with mine but always like suggestions/tips)

          and if there isn't a powder method posted yet (yeah I know how to sun-dry, but powder would throw me) please post that as well.

          1. re: hill food

            Powder thing is fairly simple - choose good tasting cherry/grape/date tomatoes - slice in half - dry in 50$/€ dehydrator - or on pan in low (50C) oven - door open. NOTHING added. Dry to a 'crisp' state but careful they don't get brownish red.

            Then grind in coffee bean grinder-chopper-meat grinder. Have to be a BIT careful -if any moisture left they can cake up and bind grinder. Could mortar/pestle them a bit first to help on any problem there.

            You can choose the tastiest fresh tomatoes (usually the 'small' species can anyhow be the tastiest) - put in a jar or two - and just use by the spoonful into whatever. When you make sure they are really dry - they will just keep and keep - that is if you don't use them too quickly :-)

            And the dried halves make GREAT taste treats for kids - I have 2 grandkids that literally jump up and down when they get their 'tomato candy' - and hardly anything can be healthier!

      2. I have to agree with hillfood, there's just too much going on. Guacamole is simple. Avocados are the star here, preferably nice ripe, organic ones (I find organic to be creamier). I usually add lime, a little bit of nice ripe tomato, red onion, fresh chopped cilantro and salt... sometimes a bit of garlic and usually some jalapeno. I've never heard of worcesterchire in guacamole.

        9 Replies
        1. re: virtualguthrie

          "I've never heard of worcesterchire in guacamole."

          Saw it in one recipe - had never used it bfr - but was such small dash I never needed to bother.

          But still only onion (shallot), garlic, lemon, cilantro, tomato - and there was nothing extraordinary about that - but where does the bitterness come from? And it seems to be a common problem with guac from comments I see - but no one says why - and as said - one remedy has been sweetening as a CRP - and that didn't help in this case anyway.

          1. re: jounipesonen

            I don't know. I've never had a problem with it coming out bitter. I would taste the avocado and make sure it's to your liking and then use only fresh ingredients and I'm pretty sure it won't come out bitter.

            1. re: virtualguthrie

              That's what's strange - all the ingredients were fine on their own. But as I say - it seems to occur to others too.

              Maybe will just go back to salsa :-)

              1. re: jounipesonen

                I wouldn't give up, just simplify and use fresh ingredients.

                1. re: virtualguthrie

                  Ditto. My Texan father's guac is the best—avocados, onion, jalapeño, tomato, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. It doesn't need anything else.

                  But my thoughts to the bitterness: what did you mix it in? I have one metal bowl in particular that is reactive to certain foods; sounds like that good be something here. Or, any chance you got your spices mixed up?

                2. re: jounipesonen

                  If you want to stick with this recipe, I'd recommend going through the recipe adding only one ingredient at a time, and tasting after every ingredient addition, and see if that pinpoints the problem.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    There was nothing holy about the 'recipe' - it was an amalgam of what I found on the net and in various Mexican cookery books.

                    But you're right - that's what I'll do in the future - add and taste. Easy to do with guac as no heating steps.

            2. re: virtualguthrie

              If I have a really good avocado--especially if it has ripened on the tree--I use just salt and some lime juice for the simplest guac ever....freshly fried tortillas from the local store and I'm in heaven.

              1. re: virtualguthrie

                ITA. I use only lime, salt, and avocado. I don't even use onion or cilantro, although I like those things. I jsut find that they detract from the essentials.

              2. Could it have been the shallots? I've had raw shallots with a definite edge of bitterness, especially when they are on the older side. Were they sprouting at all? That's the only thing I can think of.

                Those homemade tomato and cilantro powders sound fascinating, by the way. I may have to give them a try myself.

                1. even the freshest raw garlic is simply too sharp for me, and it's not something i would ever use in guac. shallots can have the same problem, but i would say acrid, rather than bitter.

                  i just use avocados, lemon or lime juice, tomato, cilantro and plenty of kosher salt. i let it rest a bit too.

                  did some of the stem end get in there?