Seed Colors

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The colors of beans and peas are determined mainly by anthocyanin pigments in the seed coat. Solid reds and blacks generally survive cooking, while mottled patterns become washed out when the water-soluble pigments leak into adjacent nonpigmented areas and into the cooking water. The intensity of color is best maintained by minimizing the amount of cooking water; start the beans in just enough water to cover, and add water only as needed to keep them barely covered. Persistently green peas and dried beans owe their color to chlorophyll.