I put water in a stainless steel pot and a strainer on top and put spinach in the strainer to steam it all for a delicious quiche, but the water turned brown.

Why does this happen?

I know someone had a similar issue with simmering peas, but my case is slightly different; the spinach didn't touch the water.

I think the boiling water did turn green. Maybe some spinach broke and dripped spinachy goodness into the boiling water and burned?

1 Answer 1


It's possible that your water supply could be high in iron, either from a well, or older city pipes. When you steam spinach, some of the iron in the spinach leeches out with the circulating steam, and this may be enough to turn normally clear high iron water into disturbing looking muddy water.

If this is the case, the water is safe, it's just not that nice to look at.

If this only happens with spinach and other high iron foods, it's probably nothing to worry about, but it probably wouldn't hurt to have your water tested, if this is a new phenomenon.

  • 4
    Ferrous iron is soluable in water , ferric is not ( red/ brown precipitate ) . Heating the water oxidizes the ferrous iron to ferric . Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 15:14
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    Just to add to this post - there are a lot of companies that do water testing locally. Use one of them, they tend to know better about trends in the area (maintenance, typical consequences of renos, etc.) as opposed to doing one of the mail away companies. The only reason I say this, is I work for one, and in the past used a mail away, and never again since working where I work.
    – J Crosby
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 17:02

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