Have you ever made a big pot of greens, green beans, spinach or broccoli only to have it turn into a drab olive-green color? Not very appetizing, huh? Here's how to keep your fresh green vegetables a bright green color!
Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale, collards, in fact, most green vegetables turn a drab olive green color upon cooking. Here's why that happens and how to avoid it when preparing green vegetables.
What Causes Green Vegetables to Discolor?
All plants (fruits and vegetables) have pigments-it's what gives them their vibrant colors. Chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green pigment in vegetables, is not very heat stable. The minute a green vegetable hits the hot water, organic acids are released from the vegetables. These acids react with the chlorophyll and turn the once beautiful green vegetable into a drab olive color. This is due to several factors:
- the amount of liquid
- degree of acidity and alkalinity
- the duration of cooking time
- oxygen: covered vs. uncovered
How to Cook Collard, Turnip and Mustard Greens
It is important to prep fresh greens with a good wash. Rinse fresh greens thoroughly a few times. Remove the center stemp and cut, or tear the remaining leaves into smaller pieces.
- The best way to prepare bright green vegetables is to ensure there is plenty of water.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to 3 quarts of water. Add seasonings such as salt, pepper, bacon grease or a smoked hamhock.
- Bring water to a low, rolling boil on medium-high heat; add the greens. Leave the lid off for the first few minutes to allow the organic acids and gases to escape.
- Replace the lid and continue to cook on medium to medium-high heat until greens are tender (but not mushy,) with a mild crunch. Cooking greens in a lot of water, with a little baking soda, and for a short amount of time ensures bright greens every time.
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