Why Is My Banana Bread Bitter?

Written By Acacia Crossley


We are all guilty of hopping on a viral trend every so often, especially when that trend has to do with food. During the COVID lockdown, pretty much everyone took to their kitchens to try their hands at banana bread.

But for those new to the baking world, a common problem kept arising – a gross bitterness. So why is your banana bread bitter? 

If you find your banana bread to be bitter, it is most likely because you have used too much baking soda. This is because baking soda is an alkaline, so it needs enough acid to balance the bitter taste out. Too much baking soda in your banana bread will cause a disbalance. 

Why Does Banana Bread Need Baking Soda? 

You may think that if baking soda is causing your banana bread to be bitter, why not forego it altogether? Eliminate the problem at its source! 

If you are worried about your banana bread turning out bitter then you can replace the baking soda with another levelling agent. For example, baking powder or quick active yeast.

However, the resulting banana bread will not rise as much as it should, creating dense bread. 

Baking soda must be combined with an acidic ingredient to create carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles are what give banana bread its spongey, airy texture.

Banana Bread Texture Inside

Bananas can contain enough acid to cause this reaction, but some banana bread recipes will also use buttermilk or lemon juice to give the bread a better rise and consistency. 

Other levelling agents require different reactions not accounted for in modern banana bread recipes. For example, baking powder already contains acid, so it will not produce the necessary carbon dioxide bubbles when added to your banana bread batter.

If anything, baking powder may make your batter too acidic. 

How To Fix A Banana Bread Batter With Too Much Baking Soda? 

There will be times when even the most experienced baker makes a mistake in the kitchen. So do not panic if you have used too much baking soda in your banana bread.

As long as you have not cooked the batter yet then you can save yourself from having to deal with a bitter bake. 

All you need to do when you realize you have used too much baking soda is adjust your other ingredients to match. If you have used 1.5 tablespoons of baking soda instead of 1, then add an extra 0.5x worth of all of your ingredients into the batter. 

The last thing you want to do is try to even out the potentially bitter result of using too much baking soda by adding more acid to the batter.

Most acid in banana bread comes from the liquid ingredients but adding more liquid into the batter without also adjusting your other ingredients will completely change the texture of the bread. 

Can Baking Soda Go Out Of Date? 

You may find that even if you are very particular about how much baking soda you use in your banana bread the bread still ends up bitter anyway. This could be less to do with your measuring skills and more to do with the baking soda itself. 

Baking soda is just like any other baking ingredient. It can last for a long time in your pantry (up to 18 months unopened), but it will go out of date eventually.

Generally, baking soda that has been opened will only last 6 months in your cupboard before it starts turning bitter, not years like some people may think. 

The sooner you can use your baking soda, the better.

Even if you have yet to open the baking soda after a few months, it will start to develop a bitter taste the longer it is left which will have a direct effect on the taste of your banana bread. 

Why Does My Banana Bread Still Taste Bitter Without Baking Soda? 

So, you’ve carefully measured out your baking soda and still have a bitter banana bread. So, you eradicate the baking soda, and replace it with baking powder, and yet you still get that bitter aftertaste!

What’s going wrong? 

The answer is surprisingly simple. It is highly likely that you haven’t properly incorporated your levelling agent with the rest of your batter. 

There is such a thing as overmixing your batter when making banana bread which can result in a dense brick of a bake.

However, if you do not thoroughly mix your dry ingredients (including your baking soda) with your wet ingredients then there will be pockets of baking soda or baking powder in your final banana bread. It only takes a little raw baking soda to hit your tongue for that bitterness to last. 

Making Banana Bread

One way to ensure that there are no big patches of baking soda in your banana bread is by using a sieve when mixing your dry and wet ingredients together.

This will separate any hard lumps in the baking soda and stop it from sticking together in the batter, reducing the chances of a bitter bite. 

Bitter Banana Bread FAQs

If you still have questions about your bitter banana bread then have a look at these common questions:

Why Is My Banana Bread Dry?

Dry banana bread is caused by using incorrect ratios of flour to wet ingredients. If you use too much flour then the bread will become dry and crumbly.

Why Is My Banana Bread Rubbery?

You’ll get rubbery banana bread if you overwork the batter. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and then as soon as they are combined, stop mixing.

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