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which ginger is edible?

Posted by bekados z8 FL (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 20, 05 at 15:10

i'm sure this is answered somewhere in the archives...but must go to work...i have about 6 different varieties of ginger...just wondering if i might be able to eat any of them...

pinecone ginger
butterfly ginger
spiral ginger (that is refusing to grow! what could be wrong?)
and others...

i tried to grow store ginger and all it did was rot!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: which ginger is edible?

The "store ginger" is Zingiber officinale. Turmeric is also a ginger (I can't put my finger on the Latin name, but it's either a Zingiber or Alpinia). There are several other edibles, too.

Here's a neat website I just found:


RE: which ginger is edible?

Turmeric is Curcuma longa (formerly known as C. domestica, and sometimes still called that). Cardamon comes from a species of Amomum, and galanga (Alpinia galanga) is used in S.E. Asian cooking. And of course there's Z. officinale.

There are probably others, but most of the ornamental varieties are not edible, including the ones you mention. In fact I almost wish someone would come up with another name for the family, because as soon as you say something is a ginger, most people seem to think that either a)you can cook with it, or b)the flowers must be fragrant. Most of the time, neither one is true.

The "spiral gingers" are not even true gingers, but species of Costus (family Costaceae). They are related, but generally don't have the "gingery" smell that characterizes the rhizomes of most members of the Zingiberaceae.

RE: which ginger is edible?

yes, the edible or fragrant thing comes up sooooo often. Just gave a lecture today, and its now part of all my talks to stress that there is no valid " all gingers ...." ie people tend to think all gingers like shade, or all gingers are fragrant, or all gingers are hardy, or all gingers aren't hardy etc. etc. Once people get over that initial disappoint and focus on the merits of each group things go well :-)

Tim Chapman

RE: which ginger is edible?

I finally did get one of those store-bought gingers to grow. Got a nice firm large root. I put it in a plastic pot with well drained soil in sun, kept moist, and it took awhile to come up (a lot longer than I thought it would) but once it did it grows pretty fast. It is sorta plain green but interesting looking, and about 8 inches tall now. I just mostly wanted to see if I could do it and I do use ginger sometimes for asian cooking, so I guess in the future I will use it. It did get me interested in gingers though...:oh no, another plant obsession - lol

RE: which ginger is edible?

Since no one mentioned the spiral ginger I'll ask if you have it in a fairly shady spot. The spiral gingers that I have grow like mad in good shade, even in restricting pots, but will do zip in the sun. The other shade lover I have is the shampoo or pinecone gingers. All .... opps ;o) ... I mean most other gingers perfer some sun.

RE: which ginger is edible?

The white butterfly ginger flowers are edible. I've only had them battered and deep-fried. They tasted like batter with a little fragrance.

RE: which ginger is edible?

I've heard that you can eat most of the costus (spiral ginger) flowers too. The true flowers, not the bracts, sprinkle them on a salad or whatever.

Haven't tried it myself, and that's not what most people mean when they say edible ginger, but there's lots of flowers that can be eaten as well as being pretty.

RE: which ginger is edible?

I bought some ginger to use in cooking late this past spring. I used some and left a half-palm sized piece out on a raised kitchen counter. After a month or so, I noticed a small sprout, like a potato eye just forming. After a week or two longer I could tell it was green, and after another week or two it grew to about a half inch high. I watched it get to about an inch. By that time, my wife was curious, and I suggested to her that she might get more ginger if she planted it.

She found a six-inch pot and put some really awful potting soil in it. Terrible stuff. Mostly sand and charcoal, I have no idea where she got that junk. Anyway, she planted the ginger just under the soil surface, and put the pot in bright shade near the kitchen door where we could watch it.

It took off. Sometimes we could tell a difference overnight (!!) It is now almost three feet tall and starting to send up a second shoot. I guess it's time to put it in the ground. But since I still don't know whether it prefers sun or shade, I think we'll have to move it around a little to find out.

RE: which ginger is edible?

Can you eat the White Hawaiian variety?

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