Hey New Ginger! Why Don’t You Turn To Pink Color?

Posted on Oct 24, 2017 in Hiroko's Blog, Recipes

The new ginger season is over….but let me tell you this story before getting too old.

Anthocyanin, color pigment in new ginger reacts with vinegar in the pickling liquid and turns the sliced ginger to petty pink color.  No synthetic food coloring is involved. Changing of the color, however, does not happen all the time.

This summer I pickled new ginger roots that came from two different farmers at Union Square Market here in New York. One farmers’ new ginger did not turn pink at all. You can see the color in the photo. With huge disappointment I went on line and searched for the answer to learn why some new ginger doesn’t turn to pink There were not many helpful answers, but it seems that new ginger has to be very fresh. Fresh ginger has higher anthocyanin content than ginger that has been stored for weeks.

Haifa, the wife of organic farmer Zaid grabbed the long stem of new ginger with meaty bulbs and green leaves and handed it to me. The green leaves on the stem and faint pink bulb gave promise to me that this new ginger would definitely turn to pink. The rest is shown in the photo.

Having pickled ginger in the refrigerator is very handy. I always serve grilled fish with handful of pickled ginger. It is a wonderful mouth refresher. If you haven’t made your own pickled ginger, here is the recipe (from my book The Sushi Experience).


¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

7 ounces new ginger or old ginger (It won’t turn pink!), peel and cut into thin slices

Bring the rice vinegar, sugar and salt along with 2 tablespoons water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar and salt and turn off the heat. Blanch the ginger slices until the slices are translucent. Drain the ginger and pickle in the prepared pickling juice.