White Vegetables

White pigments, called flavones, are the primary coloring compounds in potatoes, onions, cauliflower, and white cabbage and in the white parts of such vegetables as celery, cucumbers, and zucchini.

White pigments stay white in acid and turn yellow in alkaline water. To keep vegetables such as cauliflower white, add a little lemon juice or cream of tartar to the cook-

Table 16.1

Vegetable Color Changes During Cooking


Examples of Vegetables

Cooked with Acid

Cooked with Alkali



Potatoes, turnips, cauliflower, onions, white cabbage



Yellowish, gray


Beets, red cabbage (not tomatoes, whose pigment is like that in yellow vegetables)


Blue or blue-green

Greenish blue, faded


Asparagus, green beans, lima beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas, spinach, green peppers, artichokes, okra

Olive green

Bright green

Olive green

Yellow (and orange)

Carrots, tomatoes, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, squash, corn

Little change

Little change

Slightly faded

ing water. (Don't add too much, though, as this may toughen the vegetable.) Covering the pot also helps keep acids in.

Cooking for a short time, especially in a steamer, helps maintain color (and flavor and nutrients as well). Overcooking or holding too long in a steam table turns white vegetables dull yellow or gray.

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