Smoothies don’t have to be sweet to be palatable. But it certainly helps. Especially when there’s a lot of veggies snuck in there. What you definitely don’t want is any bitterness – it’s just not nice.
Quick tip: when trying a new recipe – taste the mixture whilst it’s still in the blender. Any issues can then be addressed before you’ve poured it all out.
Normally the sweetness comes from fruit. However, fruits can be fickle critters: apples can be tart, pears and bananas unripe, berries and orange pith can be very bitter – none of which is going to help very much.
So what can we do?
Obviously, we don’t want to resort to table sugar. Also, personally, I’d stay away from all the artificial sweeteners – we can do better than that.
Honey and agave nectar are two popular ways to add some instant sweetness. Used in moderation these can be a life saver. However, whist they are perfectly fine and natural – you probably don’t want to make them a habit. After all, they are still pure sugar and will give a sugar hit.
Fruit juice can be used instead of water to add a little sweetness. Just check that the sugar is from the fruits and not sugar that’s been added later.
Dates and other dried fruits are a great way to add sweetness. Also, they release their sugars relatively slowly – so you won’t get a sugar spike. They’re also easily stored – so it’s simple to have a selection at hand.
Dried fruits should either be soaked overnight, so they blend immediately, or put in first with a little water/liquid and given a quick whizz – that normally works for me (you often end up with little fruity bits this way – but that’s usually OK).
Ripe fruits are the ideal way to add sweetness. I buy lots of fruits – and if I don’t get round to eating them – I just chop them up and freeze them once they’ve peaked. They can then be used to rescue any recipe.
Cooling the smoothie mixture, either by adding ice or putting it in the fridge for an hour, will help reduce the requirement to make the mixture sweet. As a mixture warms up the natural bitterness of the vegetables comes out. So cooling it down has the reverse affect.
One last thought: you could try and get used to it. Overtime you can retrain your taste buds not to require so much sugar. At the end of the day – this is probably the best long-term solution.