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I just made a large pot of soup. It's a Mexican Caldo de Res. I added a bunch of lime juice, and thought, hey, maybe i'll throw the lime rinds in there too for a bit. This was a huge mistake. Now the whole thing has a really bitter flavor. I've removed the rinds, are there any suggestions on how to save this?

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Anyone have a copy of "How to Repair Food"? I've just scoured by bookshelves, and I've misplaced my copy. –  Joe Jul 15 '10 at 2:49
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While things like sugar and milk helped - none of them helped enough before the additive started having adverse effects (like making it too sweet). I ended up dumping the broth (which is not very strong to begin with), adding hot water and rebuilding it. Didn't remove it completely, but definitely had the best overall effect. –  Ryan Elkins Jul 15 '10 at 4:10
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Yea, that sucks. For future reference the white part of any citrus peel/rind is nasty and bitter. Next time you make it, try zesting the lime peel into it. That will give you the extra lime punch you were trying to get, without the bitterness. –  hobodave Jul 15 '10 at 15:00
    
D'oh! I just did the very same thing making Caldo de Res also...thank God I found this post. I've added bunch of peppers and lil salt...tastes better...can barely taste the bitter :) –  user7736 Oct 22 '11 at 15:58
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Salt blocks your taste buds from detecting bitterness. Instead it allows you to taste the other notes (like the sweetness of the peppers) instead. I imagine that's why your method worked. –  talon8 Oct 22 '11 at 16:48

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You might be able to counter-balance it with other flavors (salt, sour, sweet, hot), but you're likely still going to have some bitter notes come through, it's just a question if it's tolerable or not, and some people dislike bitter more than others. (I can't understand how people can drink beers other than lambics)

In looking at a similar thread on Chowhound, one of the recommendations is a bit of milk or cream. If you're not lactose intollerant, it might be worth a try.

This could also be a chance for an experiment -- ladle it into a bunch of glasses, try some different things (sugar, vinegar, soy, hot sauce, milk, worcestershire, combinations of them, etc), and report back to us with what you think worked best.

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About the only thing I can think of us adding a little sugar to the pot, but don't add a lot all at once. Just add a little and taste...

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Sugar or honey works wonders against the bitter flavor. I had an inedible endive and lo and behold, with a honey dressing it was OK. –  BaffledCook Oct 22 '11 at 17:17

This isn't a direct answer, but rather an anecdote from personal experience.

One time I made garlic parmesan mashed potatoes for a company thanksgiving pot-luck lunch. I've made this recipe a few dozen times before. However, this time I decided to get creative and go with parmesan, asiago, and romano cheeses instead of just parmesan. I also committed the cardinal sin of not tasting as I went. Well, I didn't realize how much more salty asiago and romano cheeses were than parmesan. Needless to say when I finished and tasted it, it was almost inedibly salty. Salt being a hard thing to counteract, and me being reluctant to throw out 5 lbs of mashed potatoes, I decided to try dilution.

I made about 7 lbs more of potatoes, omitted all the salt, and used only parmesan. Surprisingly it worked rather well. They were still a bit on the salty side of things, but delicious.

In short, maybe try doubling or diluting your recipe next time you make a mistake. That in combination with some of the milk/cream methods suggested by others could save your dish.

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Would have considered it - but this was made in my largest stock pot (it was ALOT of soup - which is why I was really so upset about it). –  Ryan Elkins Jul 16 '10 at 0:28

Not a fix, but a footnote - next time only use the zest and not the light-coloured part of the rind - that is where there the bitterness lies.

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I hope this helps, try chopping up a whole bunch of celery, It seems to absorb the bitter and nutralize the taste, It worked for me when I made a base for rice with way to much menthi Indian spice and the bitterness was unbearable, It worked for me and I hope this helps you to! I also added a little vinagar and sugar.

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Yes the celery, sugar, vinegar and honey trick worked! I just saved a lentil soup that my friend made last night, but left the whole lime in overnight. This morning it was awful. Now it tastes great! Thank you :) –  user20690 Oct 12 '13 at 14:46

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