Lynne from the UK asked us today whether or not adding baking soda to the pot when simmering vegetables is a good idea.
My Mum always used to do this when she cooked broccoli – she said it made it stay really green. So I’ve always added it to my vegetables, too. But now I’ve started to introduce vegetables to my son – and I’m wondering if it’s still OK to put in the baking soda.
In a word… no!
Adding baking soda to vegetables is a rather old-fashioned practice, done – as Lynne said – to preserve colour. This is probably because it used to be the ‘fashion’ to boil vegetables to death – causing them to lose their colour and most of their nutrients, too!
But adding baking soda to vegetables as they cook has two important negative effects – it adds sodium to them (the harmful component of salt) and it destroys much of their vitamin C and thiamine (also known as vitamin B1). Clearly, sacrificing the goodness of the vegetables for the sake of retaining their colour is NOT ideal – particularly when these veggies are intended for your baby.
The best way to keep your home-cooked veggies looking bright and appetizing is to cook them for the shortest time possible (i.e. until they are just tender) in a very small amount of water – or by steaming them.
Sorry, Lynne, but this is one of those occasions when Mum DIDN’T know best!