Breaking Green Cells – Video

Never underestimate your greens, and did you know cabbage is an herbal‐derived three‐dimensional cellulose scaffold, a unique structure that represents the natural cellular microenvironment potentially used for tissue engineering applications *mother nature never surprises us!

Greens are key to any balanced diet even if they are mostly made of water containing about 95% water, so 5% of their mass is dry matter. Now imagine the ultimate Italian super green veggie, a loose-leafed cabbage from Tuscany, the most awesome leaves are very dark green, almost black, hence its name ‘black cabbage’ Nero Cavolo.

Water is never an afterthought as an ingredient and it’s a crucial aspect of food and cooking everything we eat and in so many of the ways cooks rely on the properties of water. Thinking your way to success in the kitchen often boils down to simply understanding how water works.

I will try not to go off on a tangent but take the microwave one of my favorite kitchen tools: a tool underestimated by most who are mythically minded and lack the true understanding of the science.

Too often we underestimate what we do in our kitchen and when we prepare greens the importance in their preparation are often overlooked. Yes, it’s true you simply boil and eat, or steam but there is much more to know.

Most home chefs and professional chefs fail to recognize the importance of treating their greens with the utmost care, and consequently they often turn out damaged. Whenever I go shopping, I cringe when staff mismanage the greens at check out.

I detest when I see shoppers throwing everything into a basket, the fragile with the heavy items all jumbled. Whenever I see it, I doubt the end results, and the intelligence of the shopper. I ask myself how anyone can treat a vegetable with such disregard. It takes months to grow them and in seconds a shopper, or an employee at the grocers damages the vegetable without even knowing it.

And any chef who works for us knows how picky I am about respecting vegetables, and especially those susceptible to damage., i.e. asparagus, cabbage, salads, tomatoes, etc.

I am not only particularly careful about how they are placed in the shopping cart but when I get home I make sure the vegetables are all protected before being cooked. Often my trusted wife removes the veggies and creates a painting palette on the table, and I work until most if not all are cooked.

Now let’s start: when you boil vegetables always take into consideration the water pressure inside plant cells is what keeps vegetables firm and crisp. Damage to cell membranes allows compounds kept separately inside the cell to combine and the cell contents to leak out. This results in brown, soft and/or water-soaked veggies.

That’s why some consider steaming the best solution, and don’t forget the boiling point of a substance is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid equals the pressure surrounding the liquid, and the liquid changes into a vapor. The boiling point of a liquid varies depending upon the surrounding pressure as we all know and so steaming is an excellent way to cook.

But the key to cooking greens is never over cooking or reheating them after their initial cooking or risk damaging the cells especially when you use oil. The reason is, oil molecules saturate the greens and smother them leaving the vegetable drowning and unable to breath, or and release nutrients from their own cells. Ir simply the greens are damaged.

Commonly when the cell walls are broken the structure of the cells is lost the contents leak out. This is what mostly happens and then minutes or hours later they are re-heated and served warm and on the table. Think of your veggies the same way you do about Pasta, and never pre-cook and re-cook. Always consider the treatment of a green, the breaking or crushing of the plants’ cells also allows compounds normally held in separate parts of the cell to begin to mix.

The phenols (see diagram below) held in the vacuole mix with oxidising enzymes in the cytoplasm, turns them brown. This is what causes the brown colour in bruises and on cut surfaces, and by using citric acid, you lower the pH, and it inhibits this reaction by reducing browning. Nevertheless, consider the efforts made by farmers who work hard to produce wonderful vegetables, and respect thy greens.

The cell structure of a plant
  • The nucleus, which contains the cell’s DNA and acts as the control centre
  • One or more vacuoles are reservoirs of liquid containing sugars, acids and other materials
  • Some plant products (such as phenols) are stored inside the vacuoles to keep them apart from enzymes with which they would otherwise react
  • Mitochondria, which are the cell’s powerplant, converting breakdown products from sugars into energy the cell can use
  • Chloroplasts are found in green parts of the plants, chlorophyll and are responsible for photosynthesis
  • Chromoplasts develop from chloroplasts once chlorophyll breaks down
  • They contain the red and yellow pigments (carotenoids) that give some vegetables their colour
  • Amyloplasts, that contain grains of starch

Never underestimate mother nature and if you do watch this: