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Why Would Purple Broccoli Turn Green During Steaming?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 01, 2011 at 11:47 PM

I steamed some farmer's market purple brocolli -- looked green on stems but crown was deep purple - but after steaming it was all green. When I steam purple cauliflower (stems and crowns purple) it all stays purple. Anywone know why purple brocolli would change color?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 05, 2012
at 07:15 AM

your question title reminded me of the South Park "Chewbacca defense". Why Would Purple Broccoli Turn Green During Steaming; that does not make sense!......Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 05, 2012
at 07:14 AM

your question title reminded me of the South Park "Chewbacca defense". Why Would Purple Broccoli Turn Green During Steaming? It does not make sense!......Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 04, 2012
at 10:45 PM

That's just like setting the dye in new clothes!

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on December 03, 2011
at 06:15 PM

@Quilt, you must be mistaken again. This color change will not be the result of cooking polyphenols at too high a temperature. Steaming will have little effect on anthocyanin content.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on December 02, 2011
at 02:50 PM

you cooked the polyphenols at too high a temp.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:26 AM

Way more scientific answer than mine, lol. Thanks for the great explanation!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:33 AM

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Gardening/2009/0909/the-science-behind-purple-beans "Two things happen during cooking to make Royal Burgundy beans turn from purple to green. A direct effect of the heat is to cause decomposition of anthocyanin. Less anthocyanin means less purple. The indirect effect of heat is to burst apart cells, diluting the acidity of the cell sap."

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4 Answers

7
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:40 AM

I think this may be the answer:

The purple color of the broccoli and cauliflower is due to a pigment called an Anthocyanin in the plant cells.

Broccoli also contains a lot of the green pigment Chlorophyll that the plant uses for photosynthesis. However the Chlorophyll is wrapped up inside special membranes in the plant cell called Chloroplasts.

When you steam the broccoli the plant cells burst apart releasing all of the Chlorophyll into the cells. This green pigment is a much stronger color and completely overwhelms the small amount of purple pigment so that the broccoli now looks green. The purple color is still in there.

Cauliflower is normally white meaning that purple cauliflower contains no Chlorophyll so when it is cooked the purple Anthocyanin can still be seen.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on December 02, 2011
at 03:26 AM

Way more scientific answer than mine, lol. Thanks for the great explanation!

0
27361737e33ba2f73ab3c25d2699ad61

(1880)

on February 04, 2012
at 10:31 PM

I had trouble accepting the too high temp or too long cooking answers because I cook purple kale at the same temp/timeand it stays purple. Anyway -- the purple asparagus was back in the store yesterday with new little lables on each bunch stating that to retain the purple color through cooking, soak the asparagus in vinegar for 5 minutes before cooking.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 04, 2012
at 10:45 PM

That's just like setting the dye in new clothes!

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:29 AM

Could be for the same reason that purple beans change to green when cooked. But I have no idea why! Maybe the colour is heat sensitive.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:33 AM

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Gardening/2009/0909/the-science-behind-purple-beans "Two things happen during cooking to make Royal Burgundy beans turn from purple to green. A direct effect of the heat is to cause decomposition of anthocyanin. Less anthocyanin means less purple. The indirect effect of heat is to burst apart cells, diluting the acidity of the cell sap."

0
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on December 02, 2011
at 12:28 AM

I'm not a botanist, but I know there are other foods that change color when cooked--like red cabbage and red lentils. I wouldn't be concerned about it. It's likely just a reaction caused by heat.

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