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Today I bought a small bag of cranberries. I ate some but they tasted bitter. I was wondering if they can be eaten directly?

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Cranberries are just about always sweetened. In their natural state, they are extremely tart. They're safe unsweetened, just not pleasant.

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Most people would characterize cranberries as sour, not bitter. If yours truly taste bitter, something is probably wrong and they should be discarded.

While it is safe to eat normal cranberries raw or cooked, usually they are made into sweetened dishes because they are so sour.

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Agreed, they aren't really bitter - I suspect the OP may be interpreting an unpleasant combination of very sour and astringent as bitter. – Jefromi Dec 5 '13 at 18:10

Well I'm very curious - I would characterize cranberries as bitter, not sour (lemons are sour, for instance), so I guess it depends on an individual's taste buds. I use fresh cranberries every year to make cranberry sauce around Christmas - I don't use quite as much sugar as the recipe calls for, but even when I do, there's still a back taste of bitterness. This bitterness is allayed somewhat by the addition of port to the recipe, I find. It seems to be the nature of the fruit, and it makes a very good accompaniment to both duck, goose, turkey and chicken, as far as my taste buds are concerned. Certainly, cranberry juice also has that back taste of bitterness and leaves a sort of dry, faintly bitter feel in the mouth, and this is often a reason why many of my friends and relatives don't like cranberry juice on its own - mixed with other fruits (raspberry for instance) the bitterness is almost completely disguised. I certainly wouldn't want to eat one fresh.

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When you say "dry, faintly bitter" it makes it sound like you're in fact talking about astringency - which cranberries certainly do have. – Jefromi Dec 5 '13 at 15:33
@Jefromi Yup, that's probably a good adjective, hadn't thought of it. Definitely applicable to cranberry juice. – bamboo Dec 5 '13 at 17:44
Are you still trying to say there's an actual bitter flavor, beyond the astringency? – Jefromi Dec 5 '13 at 18:01
Astringent, tart, bitter, sour...and a partridge in a pear tree... – Jolenealaska Dec 5 '13 at 19:00
@Jefromi: Yes, actually, I am, though I'm thinking specifically of cranberry sauce here, which is not so much astringent but more slightly bitter. It's the juice to which 'astringent' is the best adjective. But I think taste perception is down to how many taste buds and how good a sense of smell you have, and that differs between people. – bamboo Dec 6 '13 at 11:27

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