When the Chemistry of Cooking Goes Haywire

200_sThe other night I was dutifully preparing a healthy and delicious meal for myself and The Hubs. Pollock Scampi, as it were, since he’s not a fan of shrimp and pollock was $4.99/lb. Plus, I have to admit, I really like pollock. It’s super tasty. So anyway, I sauteed the filets in a pan, then added the garlic. After a moment or two I poured in the lemon juice, reached for the wine and gasped as I returned to the pan.

THE GARLIC WAS GREEN.

Not like spring onion green, but a weird, unnatural electric green. Unnatural like the blue soup from the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary.

df2308db15606d00dc2539efd1096f39Now I’d heard of these things happening before, but I’d never actually had it happen to me, and certainly not since I started posting almost daily photos of my food on Instagram. I panicked a little. Nevertheless I finished cooking the food and it turned out wonderfully. (The parsley helped hide the chemistry faux pas.)

img_20160312_184539.jpgSo WHY did the garlic turn green? The answer, as usual, is: SCIENCE!

The chemical compounds in garlic that give them their characteristic pungent aroma are the same compounds that cause the color change. The color change occurs when these compounds are not cooked at high enough heat and then mixed with acid. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID.

However, I’ve done this before without issue for years, why did this only happen now?!

The answer is old garlic. The older the garlic, the more these compounds build up, and the more likely you’ll get the stunning green hue. I for one, find this fascinating.

Have you had garlic turn green on you before? Do you find science fascinating? (SCIENCE NERD HEEEEEEERE!!!) Let me know in the comments!

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3 comments

  1. That is so interesting! I have never heard of that before. Maybe because I use so much garlic, it never has a chance to get old. I think that would have freaked me out, too. I’m so glad you explained why it did that. I love to learn about food chemistry!

    Liked by 1 person

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