My 95-year-old mother always adds a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to green beans, peas etc. She states it both keeps the greens intense and tenderises them so they prepare faster. What does the bicarbonate do? R.Paterson

We matured in the nation. My grandma resided in the city more than an hour's drive away. We would call her when we were leaving the farm to come to hers for Sunday lunch. I think that was when she started boiling the veggies. They were so tender. No resistance to the teeth. At all. She included bicarb of soda, or sodium bicarbonate, to her veggies. The bicarb makes the water alkaline, which in turn makes the hemicellulose and pectin in the plant cell walls more soluble in water. This makes the veg softer. It likewise makes a few of the substances in the chlorophyll, the stuff that makes leaves green, seep out. So more of the green compound, which is excellent for you, winds up in the water.

To maintain the green, prepare the vegetables in great deals of boiling water. There are enzymes in green vegetables that break down chlorophyll, which are released when you cut vegetables or prepare them. They are knocked out by heat so putting vegetables into a big pot of boiling water shuts off the enzymes prior to they can break down the chlorophyll. Briefly steaming greens is the best method to maintain their flavour and nutrients.

Preparing the lobsters, clams and vegetables for a beachside clam bake.
Preparing the lobsters, clams and veggies for a beachside clam bake. Image: Shutterstock I want to have a clam bake. Can I do it at house? L. J.A clam bake is an American cooking custom gained from the American Indians surviving on the north-east coast of the United States. It is a banquet involving the shared gathering of corn, lobster and clams, the building of a fire to heat stones and the digging of a pit in which the food is prepared. Traditionally it was hung on a beach where there were both rocks and soft sand to dig the pit and seaweed to line it. If you have a personal beach, you'll have no worries.In a 1969 Time-Life Foods of the World book I discovered guidelines for mesh-lined wooden boxes that are 66 centimetres square and 12 centimetres deep. These are stacked on top of each other and sit in a sea water-filled metal tray over a wood fire. The secret to a clam bake is the seaweed. Kelp is finest. I have tried steaming corn and prawns in kelp-lined bamboo baskets and there was certainly the tang of the sea imparted into the corn however it was more an experiment than an advised way of cooking.< figure data-event-tracking-enabled=false data-track-data='"name_component":"Inline_Image"' itemscope itemprop=image itemtype=http://schema.org/ImageObject > Brain Food by Richard Cornish. Image: Supplied Letters On quinces E. Mitchell composes:"I make an upside down quince cake by laying quince pieces on the bottom of a cake tin, spraying with brown sugar and putting over an easy pound

cake batter. I cook

as typical, adding an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time. I permit the cake to cool a little and turn the cake out on a quite plate and serve with pure cream while it is still warm." You will now get updates from Excellent Food-Newsletter Excellent Food-Newsletter Get the most recent news and updates emailed directly to your inbox.By submitting your e-mail you are consenting to Fairfax Media's terms and privacy policy. Send your vexing

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My 95-year-old mother always adds a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to green beans, peas etc. She states it both keeps the greens intense and tenderises them so they prepare faster. What does the bicarbonate do? R.PatersonWe matured in the nation. My grandma resided in the city more than...