I tend to make Apple Crumble in a very basic way, using Bramley apples cooked down with plenty of sugar ( enough to leave a little tartness to balance out the sweet crumble mix ) and a bit of cinnamon.

The outcome is delicious but if I go back for a second helping, which has been known, that seems to develop a really strong sour or bitter aftertaste in the back of my mouth.

Now I acknowledge that modest portions are probably a virtue, but this seems to be a standard pattern over several years- that first portion is so good and the second one is so bad and I'm sure there must be something wrong with the way I'm preparing the dish. What do I need to change?

The crumble recipe I use is a typical flour/sugar/butter with a few oats and sometimes crunched up nuts too. Any variance in the crumble doesn't seem to change the aftertaste.

  • Do you peel and core the apples? Peel sometimes adds bitterness. Sep 21 '15 at 20:37
  • Yes, everything is peeled and cored.
    – glenatron
    Sep 21 '15 at 21:03
  • Have you checked: Is it the apples or the crumble that leaves the aftertaste? And how do you make your crumble?
    – Stephie
    Sep 22 '15 at 7:56

It may be that the specific flavour has a compounding effect, in the same way that spciy heat (capsaicin) does. The first bite is great, the second one is more sour, and by the second portion it is the only thing you can taste.

It happens because of the way the mouth's flavour sensors react to certain flavour compounds, but I don't know enough to explain how it works exactly.

  • One way to check this would be to take a twice as large portion initially and see if the same thing happens.
    – Erik
    Sep 22 '15 at 5:02
  • @Erik I think if I was to just chain eat it, the effect would happen at roughly the same rate.
    – glenatron
    Sep 22 '15 at 8:59
  • interesting; must have a better / more refined palette then I. :) Have you tried using different based sugars? ie: Sucanat Brown Sugar or natural cane? Wonder if the heat has anything to do with increase sour; as the temperature drops. The easiest answer; slap some ice cream or sweetened mascarpone to second serving. :)
    – zerobane
    Sep 22 '15 at 18:09

I've noticed this with stewed apples as well. The texture changes as it cools but also an aftertaste develops. I assumed it was something to do with pectin. It's usually better when reheating in the oven though?

I changed how I do crumbles in the last few years. I now make a compote with apples and say blackberries and initially cook he crumble separately. I then combine the two when the compote is cool and then bake for a very short time. This keeps the fruit tasting fresh because its not baked to death.

  • So pectin has a bitter taste? I wasn't aware of that. That could well be it.
    – glenatron
    Sep 23 '15 at 10:28
  • I think this put me onto the right track - this time when I made the crumble I added a tiny bit of bicarbonate of soda to balance out the acidity and it seems as though the sourness is limited by it.
    – glenatron
    Oct 4 '15 at 21:01
  • im not sure that it's pectin per-se rather the resultant texture changes the mouth taste
    – worthwords
    Nov 28 '15 at 3:14

What sort of dish are you using to bake the apples/crumble in? Is it possible that the bitterness is caused by metallic or other leaching from the baking dish into the fruit? This might explain why it gets a little stronger for the second serving, because it has had a little more time in contact with the fruit in particular. Just a thought.

  • Usually a small glass oven dish, sometimes a ceramic one. The container doesn't appear to change the bitterness.
    – glenatron
    Sep 24 '15 at 9:54

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