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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Cooking Q & A / Green O ions
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    Green O ions

    Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:09 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster

    I was making simple oven baked potatoes this evening. I minced fresh garlic and onion and spread it over the potatoes.

    After about 30 minutes of cooking, all the onion/garlic turned a lime green color. I've never seen this before and threw them out.

    Can anyone tell me what might cause this to turn lime green?

    Thank you,
    Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:21 pm Groupie
    I can tell you that garlic will turn green or blue in home-canned pickles. It's a reaction involving copper, enzymes, and acid and is perfectly harmless.

    "In today’s New York Times (“The Curious Cook: When Science Sniffs Around the Kitchen,” Wednesday, December 6, 2006, pp. D1 and D11), Harold McGee writes about his own experience with another bizarre color change. “…I was really rattled the first time I pureed raw garlic, onion and ginger together in the blender to make chicken in yoghurt from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Invitation to Indian Cooking.’ When I fried the puree, the entire mass turned turquoise blue.”

    McGee notes that in northern China, aged fresh garlic is left in vinegar for a week to make an “intentionally intensely green” Laba garlic pickle traditionally served with New Year’s dumplings. According to chemists at the China Agricultural University in Beijing, aged garlic is saturated with a chemical that turns garlic green when released by the acetic acid in the vinegar. “The pigment itself turns out to be a close chemical relative of chlorophyll, which gives all green leaves their color,” he writes.

    The color change in garlic and garlic-onion blends is created, McGee says, by the “same handful of sulfur compounds and enzymes that give the allium family its unique pungent flavors. Under the right conditions, these chemicals react with each other and with common amino acids to make pyrroles, clusters of carbon-nitrogen rings.” Essentially, these rings absorb different wavelengths of light and may appear green or blue, depending on their structure. To eliminate the blue hue of an onion-garlic blend, simply raise the heat in the pan—it will turn, according to Ms. Jaffrey, “a more acceptable pinkish-brown...”

    Harold McGee is the author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, a superb reference book which includes a excellent analysis of the flavor components in spices and herbs. His website is"
    Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:55 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    Thank you for the response, very interesting. I have been cooking for 20 years and never seen that. I must have had the perfect environment that caused the onion/garlic mixture to turn green.

    Unfortunately, I threw the potatoes out and made rice! ~lol~

    I will have to remember this in case it happens in the future.

    Thank you again!

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