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My typical way to cook broccoli rabe is to saute it in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes for a few minutes and then eat it just above room temp. While I don't mind the bitter taste others do. I had it out and sometimes it's not bitter at all other times it is similar. Is there a technique to reducing the bitterness?

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Broccoli rabe are hard to grow without turning bitter, and this is why in general they are not that popular

Like most vegetables you can reduce bitterness by soaking or cooking in milk, or by adding a small amount of lime (Calcium hydroxide) to the blanching/cooking water

See What counters astringency?

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Is it something in the soil (mineral?) that either adds or reduces the bitterness? – John Dyer May 7 '13 at 20:46
    
@John Dyer No idea. Some veges get bitter due to incorrect growing conditions (too much light, too much water, or in the ground too long )or incorrect storage (too much light, to much moisture) – TFD May 7 '13 at 21:43
    
This unverified source claims that soil pH affects the time it takes for brassicas (like broccoli rabe) to mature. – Kaya May 7 '13 at 21:43
    
@JohnDyer brassicas are bitter "by design", even though the bitterness has been selectively bread out of most modern varieties. If the growing conditions have something to do with the bitterness, the influence will probably be much weaker than that of the plant's genes. – rumtscho May 8 '13 at 9:26

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