Ginger is a horizontal stem of a plant that is usually present underground. Ginger is an edible tuber that has a pungent and strong flavor. It is used mainly as a flavoring ingredient in many dishes and also contains medicinal properties. In Hindi language, ginger is known as ‘adrak’ and its English name is derived from French word ‘gingembre’. In almost all households, ginger dishes are quiet popular. Gingerbread mix, ginger tea, ginger ale and ginger pickle are some of the widely used ginger dishes in all cuisines.
Origin of Ginger
The first cultivation of ginger has been done in South Asia. After that it has spread to East Africa and Caribbean. Culinary Use of Ginger Ginger flesh is very juicy and flavorful. Sherry and vinegar are used to preserve ginger as a pickle or side dish. Ginger candies, honey ginger and ginger lemon are some of the popular ginger recipes. It is peeled before making ginger dishes. Fresh ginger has different taste than dried or powdered ginger. Dry ginger is called ‘sonth’ in Indian cuisine and it is used as a spice. The best use of ginger is in combination with onion, garlic and tomato while making curry dishes.
Cuisines Commonly Making Ginger Dishes
Ginger has many culinary as well as medicinal uses in different cuisines. In Indian cuisine, ginger is used as a spice in powder and dry form. Fresh ginger is also boiled with tea to make ginger tea. Ginger powder mixed with raisins, ghee, wheat flour and nuts to make ‘katlu’, one of the Indian ginger recipes particularly given to pregnant or nursing women. An Indonesian beverage called ‘wedang jahe, made up of ginger and palm sugar is also very popular in Asian cuisine. Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines also make extensive use of ginger as an ingredient in soups and savory dishes such as fish, meat, chicken and in salad dressing also. In Western cuisines, ginger dishes are usually sweet such as ginger biscuits, gingerbread and ginger snaps. Ginger drinks are also very popular among Caribbean and Greeks.
Preferable Cooking Methods for Ginger
• Pickling – it is the most preferred method for using ginger. Ginger is pickled in sherry or vinegar and used as a condiment.
• Drying – Dried ginger is used as a spice in making flavorful ginger dishes. In sweet and baked dishes also dried ginger is used.
• Mincing – Ginger is minced or ground and used as an ingredient in making meat and vegetable ginger dishes.
• Chopping – chopped ginger roots are used as a flavoring agent in many savory dishes as well as a garnish in soup dishes.
Nutritive Value of Ginger
Ginger is a well-known flavoring agent and apart from this property it is also used for curing several ailments. The anti-flammatory property of ginger is considered very beneficial to treat heartburn. Many other common ailments like cold and flu, menstrual cramps and morning sickness can also be effectively treated by using ginger. The effectiveness of ginger is proved by the researchers in treating colon cancer. However, it is advised to use ginger in moderation as its excessive use may just work adversely and harm you.
Buying and Storing of Ginger
Ginger in fresh form is available throughout the year and can be purchased from any local grocery shop or vegetable vendor. Following tips may prove beneficial for you while buying and storing fresh ginger:
• Skin of the ginger should not be wrinkled. In that case move on to select another ginger root.
• Firm and smooth skinned ginger is best for buying.
• The smell of ginger should be fresh and scenty.
• Small sprouts coming out are as good as the ginger flesh.
• Look for ‘Jamaican ginger’ as it is the best variety of ginger used in making ginger dishes.
• Tightly wrap the fresh ginger and refrigerate for up to three weeks or freeze till six months.
• A pale yellow color of ginger flesh is juicy but as soon as it gets dried simply discard it.
Types of Ginger
• Young ginger or spring ginger – It has pale and thin skin. Peeling is not required and it gives a mild flavor to various ginger dishes.
• Mature Ginger – It has tough skin and the entire skin is removed while preparing ginger for cooking.
• Stem ginger – It has similar texture like young ginger. It is ready to be added in ginger dishes without peeling. Stem ginger has a very mild pungent flavor.
• Dried ginger – Dried ginger is the dry form of fresh ginger and especially used to make ginger powder.
Gingerbread is introduced in Greek cuisine because Greeks use to eat ginger wrapped in bread as a treatment for digestive problems.