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Jun 1, 2010 10:00 AM

Chemical Reaction or Mold?

Yesterday I made a whole wheat soda bread, though this time I added sunflower seeds.

The recipe is:

2c Whole Wheat flour
2c AP flour
1c Buttermilk
1 egg
Stick of butter
Baking powder, soda, sugar and salt.
50g sunflower seeds

All the ingredients are fresh (just opened the milk), and the bread was put in a zip lock bag after cooling. Looking at it today, all of the bread around the seeds has turned bright green. I used a bag of shelled, salted, Planters Sunflower Kernels.

I did eat a seed (I picked one out and ate it before seeing the discoloration in day light) and I didn't notice any off taste.

Can anyone drop some food science on this? A reaction between the buttermilk and seeds? Something from the preservatives in the seeds and the egg? Super fast growing mold?


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  1. According to Harold McGee, it's from a reaction between the sunflower seeds and the alkaline baking soda. It can happen when the balance of soda is off -- too much in the recipe, or not mixed in properly. Other foods that can change colour in the presence of soda are carrots, blueberries, and walnuts.

    I've had it happen with carrot muffins. The carrot shreds looked mouldy, so I told everyone I had used part zucchini. :-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Channa

      Thanks for the explanation -- I've had that happen with walnuts, and always wondered why.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Speaking of mold ... did you ever try this .... or do you still have it at home somewhere?

      2. re: Channa


        I figured it was something like that. That's almost impossibly fast for a mold to grow, particularly when you consider it's isolated to the seeds... which I presume have been treated with preservatives.

        I may try to neutralize by increasing the acidity of the dough next time. I'd worry about removing the baking soda since there's not that much to begin with.

        1. re: Channa

          Good job on research, Channa. Thanks for the link.