It’s the chlorophyll. All green vegetables owe their colour to chlorophyll, a complex molecule present in certain plant cells. A magnesium atom is located in the centre of the molecule. When chlorophyll is in the presence of acidic molecules (compounds that easily share their hydrogen atom), the magnesium is dislodged and replaced by hydrogen atoms. This simple structural change alters the colour of chlorophyll from light green to yellowish green.
Steam cooking vegetables in a covered steamer is an excellent way to preserve their nutritive value. As a general rule, the less water used, the more vitamins and minerals are preserved where we want them: in the vegetables! Other cooking methods that achieve this are stir-fries and covered steaming in the microwave using a small amount of water.
Green vegetables mainly change colour under two circumstances: during cooking and when they come into contact with acidic ingredients.
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