This Is the One Super-Simple Ingredient You Need to Use to Keep Your Veggies Full of Color

published May 12, 2023
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Reusable shopper with vegetables, fruits and products.
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Keeping vegetables fresh, crisp, and colorful while cooking throughout the week can be quite a challenge. Specifically, when boiling your greens, the result can often turn out dull in color and even brownish if left cooking for too long. Besides being a very effective and easy way to prepare a healthful meal, boiling your vegetables does a fantastic job at keeping their crunchy consistency while retaining all of the best nutrients. So how do you reconcile the only downside of the boiling method? Surprisingly, a pinch of baking soda is all you need to keep things vibrant and colorful. 

You may be wondering what it is about baking soda that helps retain the color in vegetables so well. The answer lies within the chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the element that makes vegetables so vibrant and green, and when in an acidic environment (like a boiling pot of water) hydrogen replaces magnesium in the core of the chlorophyll. This leads to the inevitable removal of magnesium from chlorophyll, resulting in a dullish, gray-colored veggie. Baking soda acts as an agent to lessen the acidity of the boiling water, therefore slowing down the dulling process.

This simple trick only requires a pinch of baking soda (or less than 1/8 teaspoon), per each full pot of water. So, be careful not to overuse it to avoid running the risk of an overly bitter flavor to your vegetables. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that this trick really only applies to green vegetables, so your broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, lettuce, asparagus, artichokes, and green beans are all fair game. Green vegetables have the highest chlorophyll content, therefore they are most likely to brown while boiling (and faster than you’d prefer). But keep in mind, if you are on a low-sodium diet, this trick may need to be avoided, as baking soda contains sodium.

For more baking soda tricks, check out this hack for bringing an old cutting board back from the dead, as well as this convenient use of baking soda while washing your dirty laundry.