I cooked broccoli with lemon and it turned purple/brown. It’s been a while but I believe I was steaming broccoli and added lemon to the water. It tasted bad—not like broccoli or lemon. What happened?

Any general rules about cooking vegetables with lemon? Is it always added at the end of the cooking process?

  • Was it a standard green broccoli, or a blueish or reddish cultivar? Also, how do you know it was the lemon and not some other reason? If you take a small portion away (a tablespoon is enough) and mix in baking soda, does it go blue?
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 13:17
  • 1
    How much lemon did you add?
    – GdD
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


Normally, acids will turn broccoli a dull grayish color, and I don't recommend adding the lemon juice until right before you serve. For one thing the lemon juice will lose its flavor when cooked.

Acids affect many, many foods when cooked — some for good and some for bad, so you do need to be careful when you add it. For example, acids added to beans before cooking will toughen them quite a bit. Acids added to proteins will denature them. And we all know what happened to Timothy Leary.

  • For those of us who don't know who Timothy Leary is, here's his Wikipedia article: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary Apparently he was an academic who was involved in the promotion of the use of psychoactive drugs like LSD ("acid").
    – nick012000
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 22:58

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