gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Seeing Red. Or is it Purple? Or Blue?

on December 16, 2014

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Tonight my seasonal preparations continue and a large pot of red cabbage is braising in the oven. It’s a Delia Smith recipe I’ve used for years, freezes well, we will probably still be serving it with baked salmon in Spring time!
The strange thing about so called “red” cabbage is that my hands and chopping board are now stained dark purple, and the food processor in the sink is sitting in deep blue coloured water.
What is going on?
Red cabbage is one of many fruits and vegetables that contain a class of reddish purple pigments called anthocyanins, which is responsible for its colour. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid pigment that are responsible for the red, purple and blue colours in most plants, leaves, flowers and fruits. These pigments have a tendency to change colour when mixed with alkaline or acidic ingredients.
In fact, Red cabbage contains at least thirty-six of the over 300 different anthocyanins that exist. These pigment molecules are stored in the cells of the red cabbage leaf. When exposed to heat during cooking, the cells containing anthocyanins burst open and cause the water-soluble colour pigments to bleed into the surrounding liquid. This is why there is immediate colour change in the cabbage and the cooking water, or washing up water.
The colour change can be avoided by adding vinegar which is acidic. I have used wine vinegar in my recipe.
Who knew so much chemistry was involved!
I wish I could send you some of the aroma of spices, vinegar, sugar, Apple and cabbage that are floating round my kitchen just now.

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