Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Can someone tell me how to minimize nitrate concentration in raw vegetables before cooking them? I need this advice very much because I'm cooking vegetables for my infant son, and I've heard that high nitrate concentrations are especially toxic for infants.

Some say that soaking vegetables in salty water with ascorbic acid can help, is that true?

Also, is there some technique that allows to neutralize nitrates during cooking? Like, maybe, changing the water.

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here is a great resource for this: Nitrates, Carrots, and Homemade Baby Food.

In a nutshell, though, there really is no way to reduce nitrate content without exhaustive preparation. We're talking grinding, pressing out the juice, then heating the juice to produce leafy veggie tofu. Yuck.

share|improve this answer
Uh, if you meant to post a link, it has gone AWOL. – Marti Feb 9 '11 at 22:47
The link was there, just the opening quote was missing on the href attribute - but FYI it's easier to use the Markdown syntax than to write HTML tag soup anyway. There's also an inline shorthand [link name]( – Aaronut Feb 9 '11 at 23:08
I think it's also worth noting that the article linked states that once an infant is at the age where people are encouraged to start adding normal foods to the diet (4 months or so), the child is virtually immune to the toxic effects of nitrates because their digestive system is sufficiently developed. – bikeboy389 Feb 10 '11 at 0:10
The linked article actually does not offer any method to reduce nitrate content of foods, possibly because there is no such method. The bottom line seems to be, if your baby is old enough to eat carrots, then he or she is old enough that nitrates are no longer a problem. – Marti Feb 10 '11 at 2:02
@marti: No, it doesn't. If you dig, there are a couple of sites that espouse the method I described in the second paragraph. IMHO, however, it's not a vegetable anymore at that point. – Satanicpuppy Feb 10 '11 at 2:06

As was said before, it's not easily possible to extract the nitrate from produce. However, there are vegetables that contain more nitrate that others. You can look these up and use them for your baby's food. Be sure not to cook too one-sided, though; so your kid doesn't go without important nutrients that happen to come with nitrate-rich veggies.

If you grow your own food, you can harvest right before cooking. Plants contain the most nitrate in the morning, because they "eat up" their inner storage during the day.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.