Why Does Your Quinoa Taste Bitter?

For people new to the delights of eating quinoa it can be a bit of a shock to find out that there is a slight bitter taste to it.
There is always this impression that anything you eat that is healthy and good for you will not taste good. When it comes to quinoa this appears to be true because it can taste bitter if you do not prepare it properly.

The Benefits

This is great pity because quinoa is one of the best foods you can eat. It is a complete protein and is gluten free. In fact for people who have to eat a highly restrictive diet quinoa is ideal as it is known to be one of the least allergenic foods. Because it is an alkaline food it is good for diabetes sufferers. There are also benefits for many other ailments and illnesses such as haemorrhoids, asthma, high cholesterol and blood problems.

The Solution To The Problem

The reason that quinoa has this slight bitterness about it is because of the coating that is on the freshly harvested seeds. When you grow quinoa it naturally has a coating on each grain. this coating is called saponins. These saponins are what provide the bitter and unpleasant taste.
A further complication is that some varieties that are grown have a larger layer of these saponins on them than others.

Whatever the variety of quinoa you buy there is an easy solution to the problem. You simple rinse the quinoa under a tap for a minute or two to remove the bitter coating. A doctor commenting on my youtube channel has told me that using warm water will do a better job of this rinsing and it does seem to do it quicker.

In practice I just use cold water. I have found that some varieties of quinoa are supplied pre-washed and others not so. If you buy yours in bulk it will certainly need rinsing before you cook your quinoa. In the UK I know that most varieties have been prepared well before packing. The only one I have found needed washing is from Morrisons.

Whatever brand you buy it is only a small thing to rinse the quinoa under a tap for a short while to get rid of the bitterness.
Of course if you eat as much quinoa as I do then you might get to actually like the bitter taste. Any residue bitterness will be cooked away when you boil the quinoa in water.

Recommended Reading

About Ken

My name is Ken and I am the author of The Quinoa Cookbook. My book is the top selling book worldwide on how to cook quinoa and has over 70 quinoa recipes included.
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2 Responses to Why Does Your Quinoa Taste Bitter?

  1. Laurie says:

    I was trying quinoa because i’m having problems with yeast in my gut and looking for grains that don’t ferment/aggravate it. The only problem is my Seborrheic Dermatitis went wild after eating it for a few days. I wonder if anyone else has seen a correlation in this? would it be the saponins? or something else?

  2. Dilyp says:

    Hi, I just bought a pack of quinoa flakes and these tastes bitter. I was told that normally quinoa flakes are rinsed prior to being “flaked” right? Tried rinsing in hot water but the bitterness remains. Thanks for your advice.

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