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Debunked: The Bitter Pith Myth

By Andrea Geary Published

You’ve been told that lemon pith is bitter. It’s not true.

Despite its reputation, the cottony white layer of pith on citrus fruits (grapefruit excepted) isn’t bitter. In fact, it’s completely flavorless. (It’s true—slice off a piece and try it for yourself.) And the zest tastes only subtly bitter. 

So why does your homemade lemonade sometimes turn out bitter?  

It happens when the pith and zest are abraded together, as they often are when preparing citrus-based drinks: Acid and enzymes convert the peel’s flavorless compounds into new ones with pronounced bitterness. 

If you aren’t going to be rubbing the two substances together, don’t worry about leaving some pith on your zest. But if you are, as in our Lemonade Concentrate recipe, we recommend using a vegetable peeler to harvest the zest with minimal pith. This zest will impart just enough bitter flavor to add complexity, but not enough to obscure the drink’s sweet-sour balance.

Recipe Simple Lemon Drop

A cocktail that is both sweet and sour, the lemon drop is perfect for the warm weather.

Recipe Shandy

This mixture of beer and lemonade makes for the perfect summer drink.

Recipe Lemonade Concentrate

This formula combines the convenience of concentrate with the complexity of fresh squeezed—and the nuanced truth about how lemon flavor works.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.