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Arugula...rarely fresh/undesirable taste?

For years, I have been confused by arugula. I know it is supposed to be spicy and bitter, but it often seems to just taste bad to me. I can't even put my finger on the flavor, but it is undesirable for sure.

However, as an open-minded & food loving person, I don't go out of my way to avoid it and sometimes I will have it and it tastes just fine--still not my favorite, but it doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Anyway, I just read something yesterday about it being highly perishable and that it should be eaten within 2 days of harvesting for the best flavor. This made me wonder how often I am actually having arugula that even tastes like it should??

It also made me think that using it as part of mixed greens probably doesn't make a lot of since if it spoils faster than other greens, but it is pretty popular in spring mix.

Just wanted to throw this out there to see if anyone else has had this thought or has any other comments.

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  1. I have found that there is a huge difference between arugula that I buy in the store and what I grow in the garden The store bought stuff has a slightly pungent taste. Its ok, but not everyone likes it. The fresh stuff from the garden is an entirely different thing. Its peppery distinctive stuff. You can smell the flavors as your harvest it. That's the stuff I crave. Its easy to grow. Here in the northeast, its one of the first things we plant as it grows quickly. It bolts to seed when it gets warm. Can't grow it during the heat of the summer but you can get another crop in during the fall before it freezes. Try growing your own or buy the stuff at farmer's markets where the roots are still attached and there is dirt on the leaves. The packaged stuff in stores is only when you can't get the real stuff.

    1. There are zillions of varieties of arugula, and they vary a great deal. Even within the same variety it will display a lot of variation depending on the growing conditions.
      I love arugula, and I love it strong and spicy, but it does not go with everything.

      IME it spoils at the same rate or more slowly than a lot of the other greens in packaged spring mix. And also IME, that is usually BABY arugula, which really has no flavor compared to the real thing.
      Full grown arugula by itself is actually sort of hard to come by unless you grow it or get in a CSA share. I suppose because people don't like the assertive flavor.

      FWIW, most or all tender greens are highly perishable, so that's not unique to arugula, but I routinely store freshly picked arugula for a week + without significant fading. It depends a lot on how it has been handled. If greens get crushed or bent at all during harvesting and preliminary washing, that really shortens their life span.

      1 Reply
      1. re: splatgirl

        Brava! There are many varieties of arugula and you are right that the so-called baby is tasteless. It should taste peppery and lasts approximately the same amount of time as other salad greens. We often keep it for a week. Plunge it into ice water for a facelift if it gets floppy.

      2. In my arugula experience: store bought isn't every all that flavorful. Then I get it from my CSA (usually larger leaves) that is too spicy and bitter for me to eat plain/raw. Then, every once in awhile I get a delivery of smaller leaf arugula from my CSA and it is soooo yummy. Even my DH went bananas over a salad I made with CSA "baby" arugula and pears. This thread has me thinking that maybe my farmer is planting two different types. I had at first thought that she was harvesting past the yummy baby stage. I will have to email and ask her. I'll post her reply here.

        4 Replies
        1. re: pagesinthesun

          Try the really spicy stuff with watermelon and feta. Bliss!

          1. re: splatgirl

            hmmm, that a new one. I will give this a try. I struggle to use up the spicy stuff! thanks!

            1. re: splatgirl

              This sounds awesome. Do you drizzle anything; oil/vin, vinaigrette, on it?

              1. re: chloebell

                sure. any/all. cracked pepper and a sprinkle of salt, too. also delicious with blue or gorgonzola instead of feta

          2. For about a year I've been buying arugula at our local co-op and loving it. I recently had to buy some of the clamshell stuff at Safeway. SO inferior.

            1. There is considerable variation in taste, bitterness, etc. but I find that it does store well compared to other greens.