How to retain the green color of boiled vegetables?

Many housewives and chefs give a small pinch of baking soda to the cooking water when they are boiling green vegetables such as beans or broccoli. The reason for this is that the vegetables retain their intense green color better than without baking soda. But why is this so?

The green color of vegetables is attributed to the green plant pigment chlorophyll. There is a magnesium ion in the center of the chlorophyll molecule. Vegetables contain several organic acids, which decrease the pH level of the cooking water and displace the magnesium ion from the chlorophyll molecular.

The alkaline baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) neutralizes the acids in vegetables and thus prevent the displacement of the magnesium ion from the chlorophyll molecule. In this way, the vegetables retain their bright green color.

But be careful: too much baking soda makes the cooking water soapy and destroys water-soluble vitamins. It is better to use a little less cooking water and make sure not to overcook the vegetables.

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