Green coloring, or chlorophyll, is present in all green plants. Green vegetables are common in the kitchen, so it is important to understand the special handling required by this pigment.
Acids are enemies of green vegetables. Both acid and long cooking turn green vegetables to a drab olive green.
Protect the color of green vegetables by
1. Cooking uncovered to allow plant acids to escape.
2. Cooking for the shortest possible time. Properly cooked green vegetables are tender-crisp, not mushy.
3. Cooking in small batches rather than holding for long periods in a steam table.
Steaming is rapidly becoming the preferred method for cooking green vegetables. Steam cooks food rapidly, lessens the dissolving out of nutrients and flavor, and does not break up delicate vegetables. Overcooking, however, can occur rapidly in steamers.
Do not use baking soda to maintain green color. Soda destroys vitamins and makes texture unpleasantly mushy and slippery.
How much water should be used when boiling? A large quantity of water helps dissolve plant acids, helps preserve colors, and speeds cooking. But some cooks feel that an excessive amount of nutrients are lost. See the next section for further discussion.
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