Ingredients/ Kitchen Know-How

What is ginger and how to use it?

Ginger root and knife

 

What is ginger?

 

Ginger is a flowering plant which is widely used in cooking for its unique flavor and health properties. It has long, thin green shoots and yellow flowers though it’s more commonly known for  the brown, gnarled appearance root, the so-called ginger root.

 

The part of the plant we are most familiar with is actually called the “rhizome” which is a type of plant stem. Ginger is a common flavoring agent used heavily in Asian cuisines and is a superpower in the world of natural and folk medicine.

 

Ginger is warming, spicy, and highly flavorful. Native to Southeast Asia, ginger was among the first exported spices from the region centuries ago. Today, ginger is popular all over the world for its distinctive taste, powerful aroma, and its multitude of medicinal properties.

 

Health benefits of ginger

 

There are many health benefits of consuming ginger. Most notably is ginger’s ability to soothe nausea caused by morning sickness during pregnancy, motion sickness, and general digestive troubles.

 

The way in which ginger calms upset stomachs is still largely unknown, but many agree that ginger produces a similar effect to anti-nausea medications. For those seeking natural remedies to fight an upset stomach caused by pregnancy, food, drink, motion, or virus, ginger is the top contender.

 

In addition to its digestive benefits, ginger may also aid in the treatment of the common cold and flu. Ginger contains gingerol, a compound found in fresh ginger (it is also the same compound that gives pepper its spiciness). Gingerol is believed to lower the risk of viral infections and inhibit the growth of some types of harmful bacteria.

 

Ginger also has anti-inflammatory benefits. This property can help to reduce inflammatory ailments such as muscle pain, menstrual cramps, headaches, and joint paint.

 

Ginger has a wide range of health benefits from soothing nausea to easing body aches and is truly worthy of being called a “superfood.” 

 

 

Candied ginger

 

How does ginger look and taste?

 There are two types of fresh ginger available. Fresh ginger is either “young” or “mature”.

Young ginger looks like a bud and has thin

, white skin with a hint of pink

 while mature ginger has slightly tougher skin that is more brown and knobbly. Both types contain the same benefits, so you can confidently choose whichever is available.

When choosing fresh ginger, look for unblemished skin, even coloring, and no blue patches which signals rot. In mature ginger, the skin is edible but peeling it is recommended. Since the skin is very thin, vegetable peelers will remove the skin but also a lot of your precious ginger!

 

Instead, use the side of a spoon to remove the skin. Then, chop it, grate it, or juice it! Store any unused ginger in the refrigerator or, if you aren’t planning on using it all soon, peel it and store it in an air-tight container in the freezer.

 

Aside from whole, fresh ginger, there are several ways to find and prepare it in other forms. You can find ginger in hard or chewy candies, dried or powdered form, and as tea.

 

Each preparation has similar benefits so choose whichever works best for you. Ginger candy is a quick and accessible way to quell nausea in people of all ages and while on the go while dried ginger makes a soothing cup of tea.

 

How to use ginger in cooking?

 

For cooking, it is best to use fresh ginger or dried ginger powder. First, remove the skin of the fresh ginger, then mince or cut it into small pieces. 

 

You can fry it in the pan together with onions and garlic to add flavor to a stir fry, you marinate tofu or veggies together with soy sauce and a little oil, you can add it to a soup to enhance the aroma. You can also juice it, pickle it, and even make tea with it by adding it to hot water.

 

Ginger is also a staple flavor in many Asian cuisines. In Japan, you’ll find ginger shredded and pickled as a palette cleanser for sushi. In India and China and the Indonesian islands, it is finely chopped or grated and added to soups, stocks, and sauces. In Western cuisines, you’ll find ginger adding warmth to baked goods and soups. 

 

Since its origins in Southeast Asia, ginger has made an impact on food and medicine all over the world for its unique, distinct flavor and powerful healing properties.

 

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