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.
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