by timrel

March 13, 2022

Why Does Cranberry Juice Have a Bitter Aftertaste

Cranberries are small, dark-red berries native to North America. Traditionally used as a medication for wounds and to dye fabrics (as well as a food source) by Native Americans, cranberries have been a staple ever since.

Related to the blueberry, cranberries are known for their tart, sour flavour. Due to their sharp taste, just 5% of cranberries are sold fresh. The other 95% are used in sauces, dried, or made into juices.

This article will look at the health benefits of cranberries, what makes cranberry juice bitter, how to reduce the bitterness of these berries, and more.

Are Cranberries Healthy?

Yes, cranberries are healthy. Hailed as an immune booster, the humble cranberry has a number of health benefits. Here’s a closer look.

Prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Cranberry juice is a popular remedy for UTIs. Cranberries contain compounds called proanthocyanidins, which are packed with antibacterial properties. These compounds deter bacteria known as Escherichia coli (E.coli) from sticking to the inner surface of the bladder and urinary tract, preventing infection.

Strong antioxidants

Cranberries, particularly the skin of the berries, are full of plant compounds. These plant compounds have strong antioxidant properties. Cranberries are extremely high in a plant compound called ursolic acid. Ursolic acid is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It is also touted as having anti-cancer effects, especially in people with prostate cancer.

Healthy for the heart

Regularly consuming cranberries may be good for heart health. Cranberries are thought to regulate cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce damage to the blood vessels. 

Good for the gut

A plant compound found in cranberries known as A-type proanthocyanidins may lower the risk of stomach issues such as stomach cancer and gastric ulcers by preventing the growth of a cancer-causing bacteria called Helicobacter pylori.

Why Does Cranberry Juice Have a Bitter Aftertaste?

Cranberries are often said to be both bitter and sour. Cranberries contain a very low amount of sugar (less than 4%) and are therefore usually sweetened before consumption. Aside from their low sugar content, the reason why cranberries are so bitter is due to the tannins. 

Tannins are compounds found in a wide range of products such as tea, coffee, grapes and wine, pomegranates, blueberries, and chocolate. 

Brimming with antioxidants, tannins are extremely healthy for the body. They help to fight inflammation, balance blood sugar, and maintain heart health.

How did Cranberries Make their Way to Europe?

There is an evolutionary reason why fruits, such as berries, are typically sweet. Sweet fruits attract animals. These animals consume the fruit and disperse the seeds, allowing the plant to continue to grow and spread.

Interestingly, cranberries have another way of distributing their seeds. Cranberries contain an air pocket in their centres, allowing them to float. This is why you will often find cranberries near water sources, typically in lowlands.
Why Does Cranberry Juice Have a Bitter Aftertaste PIN

As the fruit matures, it falls from the vine and is swept along with the water to pastures new.

Legend has it, this is how cranberries made it to Europe. Native to the United States, in the seventeenth century, cranberries were brought with sailors on voyages to avoid scurvy. Unfortunately, a tragic shipwreck resulted in cranberries being washed up on European shores. 

Despite travelling across the world, cranberries are most commonly found in bogs in Asia, Canada, and the US. 

How do you Make Cranberry Juice Less Bitter?

Cranberries leave a dry, bitter aftertaste. To reduce the bitterness, it’s common to mix cranberry juice with other fruits and natural sweeteners to disguise the sharp flavor.

Many store-bought cranberry juices contain an enzyme called naringinase to remove some of the bitterness from the juice. However, store-bought cranberry juices often contain high levels of sugar, making them a less favorable option and reducing the health benefits.

To make pure cranberry juice taste less bitter, try these tips:

  • Use natural sweeteners such as agave, maple syrup, or honey
  • Add other fruits such as banana or apple to counteract the sourness
  • Mix cranberry juice with other juices such as orange or pineapple juice to mask the bitter taste
  • Mix cranberry juice with a cup of boiling water, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime then refrigerate. This adds a tart flavor
  • Adding water or soda water to cranberry juice can make the cranberries release natural sweeteners, improving the taste. The fresher the cranberry, the more acidic it is likely to be
  • A dash of salt stops the cranberries from becoming too sweet when mixed with sweeteners or sugars. The salt helps the cranberries to retain their fresh taste
  • Whizz up a smoothie. Adding cranberry juice to smoothies can get rid of the bitter aftertaste and still serve up all their amazing health benefits

About the author


I am passionate about health and wellbeing and have writing for over 10 years on the subject. I have a BSc Hons Degree and undertake vigorous research to help people improve their lives and live more a healthy and happy life.

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