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I've been attempting to make green smoothies lately as part of a health kick. The way I've been doing it is to use a normal smoothie recipe, but to add handfuls of spinach.

In general, the results haven't been bad, and certainly better than I expected, but I do find the spinach to add a bit of undesired astringency the smoothie.

Now I know that certain tastes can counteract the perceived effect of other tastes. For example, sweetness can counter sourness, or salt can counter bitterness.

I tried experimenting a bit with adding (separately) honey, lemon, and salt, but none of these seemed to make a difference in the astringent feeling the smoothie left in the mouth. What taste, if any, can counter astringency?

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a handful of frozen mixed berries covers up the strong aftertaste of raw greens. my mom has gotten me to drink frightening concoctions this way... even hid the -blech- raw garlic. If that fails: chillies! guaranteed your mouth or eyes or nose won't be dry then, lol – Pat Sommer Aug 30 '12 at 17:41
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Many leafy and dark green vegetables have high tannic and dicarboxylic (including oxalic) acid levels. Though these are weak acids, they have a powerful astringent effect. Some of the main tricks to hiding and/or removing these are soaking in:

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C, lemon juice)
  • Fats
  • Food grade lime
  • Milk

So if your smoothy is milk based you will be extracting the maximum tannin from the spinach :-)

A pre-soak in a small quantity of milk and then discarding that milk, or a pre-soak in lemon juice and then a quick fresh water rinse are probably the simplest "fixes" of the spinach's astringent effect

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In the case of black tea, astringency is much reduced by adding a small amount of milk to the brew.

Unfortunately this is not a simple case of taste perception; astringent compounds in the tea bind chemically with proteins in the milk. I don't honestly know if a similar chemical process will occur in the case of spinach since the astringent compounds in tea and spinach are not identical.

I generally add milk to smoothies anyhow. Worth a try?

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This is only a guess, but cucumber might help (of course you'd need to peel it), or melon - they both work well in spinach salads.

I thought about alternatives to spinach - how about trying rocket or coriander?

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Green apples.. Really look for smoothies that actually use leafy green veggies in them to avoid them tasting bleh. Or use green apples instead of milk.

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