Many people think that cilantro tastes like soap, a stinkbug, or even dirt and they dislike it but what if we told you that there is a scientific explanation for this? What is it? Keep reading to find out.
Cilantro tastes weird and if you stop to ask ten random people on the street about it, at least 5 out of 10 will express extreme distaste for the herb. In fact, some vegetarians who have vowed to only eat greens will not touch it with a ten-foot-long stick.
However, according to SciShow, a science show that airs on Youtube, the reason many people hate the herb is that it tastes like soap. Indeed, there are many people who will refuse to order tacos if they can’t be made without the use of cilantro.
Some scientists realized this and decided to get to the bottom of it. They questioned 30,000 people about what they thought of cilantro and its taste and found some similarities among those who had something against cilantro but before we get into that, let’s talk about the properties of cilantro.
Cilantro contains many molecules that give it its scent and taste. Some of these molecules are known as aldehydes and according to research, some people perceive these aldehydes as having a soapy taste or smell.
These aldehydes that give cilantro its distinct smell also happen to be a by-product of making soap which may account for why people think it tastes soapy.
SciShow host Hank Green explained: “Subjects who said that cilantro made salsa taste like bubble bath had similarities in a cluster of smell receptor genes that–surprise–detect the smell of soap. They tended to share one gene in particular which codes for the receptor that picks up the scent of aldehyde chemicals.”
On the other hand, not everyone with this gene hates cilantro and some who do have the gene have claimed to enjoy the herb which just means that there are likely other genes that play a role in why some folks can’t stand it.
Experts are not exactly sure why some can perceive the aldehydes but some believe that those who can have the ability to detect flavours others cannot. Regardless of the taste, cilantro is a healthy herb with benefits that are globally acceptable.
It not only has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but it is also a good source of iron, manganese and magnesium. If you wish to enjoy the benefits, an easy way to stomach the soapy taste is by crushing the leaves before consuming them. This will lighten the taste because the enzymes released will transform the soapy taste into something mildly better.