Bitter leaf soup is often considered as one of the popular vegetable soups in Nigeria. The only challenge you may face while planning to make this soup may be the time it takes to wash the bitter leaves or the inability to completely remove their bitter taste. However, you can buy the already washed bitter leaf from the market, but it is often not prepared in a hygienic way.
Many people do not find it funny when it comes to the washing process of bitter leaf because of the long procedure that is involved. For this reason, the majority of people have become reluctant in preparing bitter leaf soup. I have found out many simple ways to perfectly wash bitter leaves which will be of benefit to you; Its high time you develop a love for bitter leaf and start cooking this flavourful soup without consuming more time as often.
Table of Contents
- Three ways to wash and remove bitterness from Bitter leaves
- Step by step procedures for each method of washing bitter leaf
- Storage and preservation of Bitter leaves after washing
Three ways to wash and remove bitterness from Bitter leaves
Washing of bitter leaf might not be that easy for some people, but here in this article, you will learn the three ways in which you can remove the bitter taste from this precious vegetable without much waste of time.
Pound the leaves using a mortar
An easy way to remove bitterness from bitter leaves is to pound them in a mortar using a pestle into tiny pieces. This will enable the dark juice to leach out and thus hasten the process.
Use Edible Potash while rubbing and washing bitter leaves
Another way to remove the bitter taste from the bitter leaf is to use edible potash (“akanwa” – in Hausa). Edible potash is a very good catalyst and is used to prepare many foods including bitter leaf and editan soup Ugba, Abacha, nkwobi. This aids in softening or tenderizing of food like beans, and softening of tough meat.
In addition, it also assists in the curdling process of oil most especially palm oil. Potash is also used to reduce the bitterness from food and increase viscosity in other foods like Okra soup and ewedu soup. It is therefore efficient also in removing bitterness from bitter leaf washing it and it hastens the washing process in no time.
Use a food processor
Additionally, bitter leaves can be washed using a food processor. This gadget has multiple purposes in the kitchen, apart from blending food, it has other uses which you may not know. The food processor method is the easiest way to get rid of the bitter taste from bitter leaves, as you don’t have to use much of your energy to wash the leaves repeatedly to achieve a perfect taste.
Step by step procedures for each method of washing bitter leaf
How to wash bitter leaf by pounding
- Pluck the bitter leaves from the bitter leaf plant, you can remove the stalks if you want.
- Bring the bitter leaf into a wide mortar; use a pestle to pound the leaf until they become smooth a bit.
- Transfer the pounded bitter leaf into a bowl, add two large cups of water into it
- The water liquid may look foamy and blackish at this first stage; pass the bitter leaf over a colander to drain the first liquid out.
- Bring the leaf into the bowl again, wash and squeeze the leaf in between your palms leaf for two minutes. This will enable more greenish liquid to come out.
- Add a few cups of clean water into it and rinse, you will notice less foam and the water becoming clear or turning light green.
- Drain the liquid over a colander the second time and return it into the bowl. Repeat the washing process until the liquid is completely clear. At this stage, bitter taste must have reduced
- Soak the bitter leaf in warm water for 5 minutes, and then drain the liquid out. Now the bitter taste is gone.
- Spread it in a tray or a plain surface and dry the leaf under the sun. Once it is dried package it in a nylon bag and use it whenever you want to prepare Ogbono soup, okra soup, or bitter and Cocoyam soup.
Steps of washing bitter leaves with bitter leaf washing machine or food processor
- Bring the bitter leaves into a medium pot; add clean water to slightly cover the leaf.
- Place on heat to cook for 7 minutes, the heat will gently leach out the bitter liquid as its boils.
- Once it is 7 minutes, bring it off from heat and drain out the hot water.
- Detach the knife blade from your food processor and attach the dough blade. The knife blade will automatically puree the bitter leaf into baby’s food (very smooth consistency), you do not want that.
- Place the cooked bitter leaves in a food processor and add a very little water to the bowl.
- Switch the food processor on and let it spin on maximum speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the bitter leaf into an empty bowl, add clean water into it and drain with a colander over your sink.
- Bring the leaf into a sealable nylon bag and preserve it in the freezer for later use. You can also spread it in a tray and put it under the sun to dry before you package it with a nylon bag.
How to wash bitter leaf with edible potash (“kanwa“)
- Dissolve a teaspoon of edible potash with warm water in a large bowl
- Bring fresh bitter leaf into the water to soak for 1 minute
- Use both hands to wash and squeeze bitter leaf the same way you usually wash clothes
- Once the leaf has become tender, you will notice green liquid and foamy juice coming out.
- Keep squeezing and smashing the leaf with your palms to remove more of the green liquid.
- When there are too much greenish liquid and foam, drain the bitter leaves with a colander and then wash and squeeze the leaves for 2 minutes without adding water into the bowl.
- Once you notice more foam in the bowl add water to rinse and drain the dark water out.
- Bring the leaves into an empty bowl and then repeat the squeezing and smashing process. Rinse and filter the dark water out
- Taste to see if the bitter taste is gone. If the bitter taste is still there, keep washing it for at most 4 to 5 times. If you notice less foam and clear water and you are happy with the taste, do the final rinsing and then drain excess liquid out.
- Dry the washed bitter leaves under the sun to prevent mold from forming, and then preserve the leaf in a plastic bag and keep.
- Any day you want to make use of this, soak in warm water, shred the leaves to your preferred size, and then use it for any of your vegetable soup recipes.
Steps on how to wash bitter leaf using edible potash (“kanwa”) with pictures
Dissolving the edible potash with warm water
Finally, rinse the leaves, squeeze into balls, and then drain excess liquid out.
Dry the washed bitter leaf under the sun to prevent from forming molds
Storage and preservation of Bitter leaves after washing
You can preserve the washed bitter leaves in two ways either by storing it in a sealable plastic bag and then kept in the freezer to be used when needed or you can simply spread the leaves over a plain surface or tray then leave it to sit under the sun. The later might take a whole day or two days for the bitter leaves to dry completely. Once they are dried, pack the leaves into a polythene bag and store them on a dry shelf. Any day you want to use it soak it in warm water to loosen it because it will become squeezed and stringy when dried.
Note: after washing bitter leaves, the leaves will shrink and become stringy and may even change from a green color to dark green or brown. It is normal if you end up with such a color of leaves. In addition, edible potash should be used sparingly and later rinse in any food.
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.