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  • Michelle Schwartz

All About Ginger

"An had I but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread."
Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost

The familiar, warm, spicy flavor of ginger has long been treasured. A mainstay in the ancient spice trade, it's one of the oldest cultivated spices-found in ancient Rome, China, the Middle East, and India.

Ginger is one of over 50 species of the genus Zingiber, along with turmeric and cardamom. An herbaceous perennial, the spice comes from the underground rhizome, which is covered with a brownish skin that's thin (if harvested young) to thick (if harvested when mature). The flesh of the rhizome is usually ivory to pale yellow, though some varieties are reddish.

The namesake of three popular foods-gingerbread, gingersnaps, and ginger ale-aromatic ginger has an assertive, warmly pungent (slightly biting) flavor. It partners well with a variety of other spices and especially with other warm spices such as cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg. (You'll often find it in spice blends, such as curry powder.)

Where can I use ginger?

Used in both sweet and savory dishes, ginger-freshly sliced or grated, dried and cut and sifted, powdered, or crystallized (candied) - enhances baked goods, sauces, soups, pickles, relishes and chutneys, preserves, beverages, fruit dishes, roasted meats (beef and pork), poultry, and fish, grains and vegetables. It is essential in Asian, North African, Caribbean, and Indian cuisine.

Can I use ginger in home remedies?

Ginger promotes circulation and digestion and is a common treatment for nausea. It is also used to ease digestive problems from nausea, morning sickness, and motion sickness. Ginger may help detoxify the body since it promotes sweating. I have customers and mothers that I know that use it when they are dealing with fever. It has been known to help reduce coughing.

Ginger is excellent as a tea, powder, or tincture to treat sluggishness in the digestive tract, digestive upsets, and gas pains. Ginger has a protective effect on the stomach and liver, and is the top spice to use for people with liver and digestive problems.

Here is a great article on more home remedy uses for ginger.

None of our products are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. The comments made here are for your education only; they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. If you have any questions about any product, contact a professional healthcare adviser.

Please DO NOT depend on us for all of your herb information. While we are learning about our products daily, we are not trained herbalists. We encourage you to do your own research on any product to be sure of all uses, allergies you may have, etc.

We will share our experience, share medical research we’ve learned about, teach you about the use for herbs throughout history and tell you what we would do for ourselves in a given situation, BUT WE ARE NOT DOCTORS. We cannot prescribe anything for you.

A few tips for cooking with ginger:

- Buy powdered ginger in small amounts and replenish it often, because its flavor fades quickly.

- Ginger becomes hotter as it cooks, so use a light hand at first.

-When using cut and sifted ginger, bruise it well before grinding or grating to release the full flavor. Keep in mind that it's a bit more potent than ground ginger.

- Raw ginger root has a sharp bite, much like horseradish. Cooking softens its flavor.

-To substitute powdered ginger for fresh, recommendations range from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger per tablespoon of freshly grated root. The variation probably depends on the freshness of your ground product (the fresher the product the stronger the taste). We suggest starting with the smaller quantity and taste testing your way to the perfect amount.

Are there any other ways to use ginger?

Sure! Here is a little inspiration:

- Stir into pumpkin or apple pie filling.

- Add crystallized ginger to carrot cake or pound cake batter.

- Sprinkle ground ginger on sweet potatoes.

- Combine ginger tea with lemonade.

- Stir minced crystallized ginger into cream cheese as a spread for fruit bread.

- Add to soy sauce for dipping egg rolls.

- Combine with apricot preserves and serve with pork.

- Add to a simple vinaigrette for a new salad dressing.

- Sprinkle on baked apples.

- Make a warming ginger tea by pouring boiling water over ground or cut and sifted ginger root. Steep for about 5 minutes, strain and serve. For a refreshing beverage, add some carbonated water or cold green tea and ice cubes.

We have a decent sized selection of ginger products, including cut and sifted ginger root, ground ginger root, and crystallized ginger cubes. These are all available in one pound packages on our website or you can call to place an order for a smaller amount.

Some of this information comes from Frontier Co-op Spice Savvy Ginger. If I have any available I will send one with any order of any ginger product.

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