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Does Purple Cabbage Turn Blue After Being Cooked?

by Jim Dorsch

Purple, or red, cabbage is sweeter and milder in flavor than other types of cabbage. The substance that provides its red color can turn blue when cooked in an alkaline liquid. This is remedied by cooking purple cabbage with an acidic ingredient such as wine or vinegar.

Color Chemistry

The color of purple cabbage comes from pigments called anthocyanins. Heat from cooking causes these molecules to burst, releasing pigments that turn blue in an alkaline environment. Tap water typically has a pH of 6.5 to 8.5. A pH over 7.0 is alkaline.

Cooking Purple Cabbage

Add an acidic substance, such as vinegar, wine or lemon juice, to the pot to retain the color of purple cabbage. Just 1/2 tablespoon per 1 cup of water should be enough. Many common recipes, such as for German red cabbage, include ingredients such as vinegar, so you won't need to add more.

About the Author

Jim Dorsch has been a writer and editor since 1991. He has written for major newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "Chicago Tribune," and is publisher and editor of "American Brewer" magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in statistics from Purdue University.

Photo Credits

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