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I bought ginger at the grocery store last week and kept it, unpeeled, in the fridge. Today I sliced it open and there is a ring of a blueish colour, instead of the yellow I was expecting. The ginger still smells like I'd expect (I haven't tried tasting it).

Would this be safe for use (I was planning on putting some in a salad dressing), or should I toss it?

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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Having just returned from Hawaii, I actually have a possible answer for you. There is a type of ginger that you can get there (though it's not all that common, far as I could tell) that's called blue ginger. It's just like regular ginger, only it has the blue layer inside as you describe. There was a guy selling it at a roadside fruit stand when we were there.

It should be absolutely safe to use.

edit: I found a link to somebody talking about it. Hawaiian Blue Ginger

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Not only that, but blue ginger is often sold as regular ginger in supermarkets. It's not Hawaiian in origin, though, it's called galangal and its origins (and prevalence) are Asian. –  Aaronut Dec 12 '10 at 1:14
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It's my understanding that galangal is pretty distinct, flavor-wise, from true ginger. The lady at our Thai market was pretty adamant about the difference, but didn't have any galangal so I can't say what the actual difference is. The blue ginger I smelled in Hawaii was indistinguishable from regular ginger. –  bikeboy389 Dec 12 '10 at 16:38
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hawaiianorganicginger.com/brother-bubba-baba.html shows a variety of ginger, decidedly not galangal from the looks of the skin, which has a blue ring. –  JasonTrue Oct 2 '12 at 3:01
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I've never heard of that being a problem. I don't know about the cause, though. Is it more blue or more green? If the root was exposed to light at some point I suppose it might have gotten some chlorophyl development.

McGee has written about acids changing the color of garlic. Maybe there's something similar going on?

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same thing happened to me. I returned from the store with fresh ginger, only to find that when I cut it open it was more blue than yellow. I checked around and found this reference: http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodstorage/a/gingerstorage.htm Read far enough down and it says that its another variety of ginger. hope this helps.

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Some varieties of ginger contain compounds called anthocyanins which can turn blue when exposed to acids (these are the same compounds that sometimes turn garlic blue). Varieties of ginger originating in Japan contain these compounds, but varieties originating in China do not, which explains why this only happens to some ginger. The pH of ginger is slightly acidic, so that probably starts the reaction.

... so, yes, this is a safe, naturally occurring compound in ginger. It is an antioxidant, so there is some evidence that it may actually be beneficial to your health.

Anthocyanin in ginger

Garlic turning blue

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More anthocyanin info: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/40616/… –  sourd'oh Dec 27 '13 at 22:23
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I buy ginger a lot and from time to time will get one that has a greenish ring around the inside. I have consumed it and nothing happened to me :) Although I did notice ginger with this coloring tends to be less juicy and a bit more fibrous than the preferred yellow.

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