What is Ginger Root Used for? Ginger root is used for for culinary purposes of course. You can add ginger root to your food for a spicy-sweet and pungent flavor addition. There’s a sharp pepper spice bite hiding in there, and you can usually moderate that by the amount of ginger you put in. That would go for dried ginger as well as fresh ginger root.
For cooking, I find fresh ginger root much more appealing and easier to work with than dried ground ginger that comes from a jar commercially. I know.. sometimes you don’t have the time or even have the actual ginger root.. but you do have a jar of that dried stuff that you keep around “just in case”. I get it and we all do it. Expect the dry stuff to have more of a bite than it will have actual ginger flavor.
You’ll find the opposite is true with fresh ginger root, in my opinion. With fresh ginger root, there’s more flavor compared to a sharp bite that you’d get with that dried stuff. Because of the subtlety between the two levels of flavor and sharpness of the bite, I find that it’s easier to mitigate more ginger root flavor into recipes with the fresh stuff without sharply increasing that harsh peppery bite you get from the dry.
Is ginger root a root?
No.. ginger root is not actually the roots of the plant. Ginger root is not a tuber either. Ginger root is a rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale. Contrary to what many people believe because of its common name, the ginger root (rhizome), is a horizontal stem. This rhizome is responsible for producing the actual root systems that enable the plant to grow and reproduce but is not the actual roots themselves.
This enables and allows ginger root to be asexual for reproduction. That’s why you can break off a piece of ginger root (rhizome) and it will grow a duplicate of the plant. A new plant with more rhizomes to break off and reproduce again. Bamboo, Turmeric, and Poison Oak are other examples of rhizomes. Asparagus has rhizomes but it is the vegetable stem we commonly eat.
Where can I find ginger root?
Ginger root is a native to Asia and has been used in cooking for thousands of years. Fresh ginger root can be found in most super markets today and has become a common spice in today’s kitchen replacing the dried version that is sold as dried ground ginger more commonly. Fresh grated ginger root is now being sold as a paste. This is increasingly gaining market share because of the convenience of having “fresh” ginger in a tube.
I personally find the ginger that’s been made into this paste and put into a tube, not to be as potent as grating the fresh ginger yourself. That being said, getting “fresh” ginger root out of a tube is SO much better than the dried version. Ginger root has been around for thousands of years and has an extensive history in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal and medicinal traditions so it can be found growing in those areas.
What are the health benefits of ginger root?
Many people add ginger root to their food for the medicinal reasons as well. Ginger has been used to help a variety of ailments ranging from digestion, stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea. It has been used to help treat the common cold along with flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods, arthritis, colic, and heart conditions.
How can you prepare ginger root?
Ginger root is used several ways and in a couple forms. There’s fresh and dried of course, but ginger root can be pickled and preserved, candied or crystalized and ground down or powdered. Depending on how you want your ginger root will determine how you prepare it.
Ginger root is commonly pickled in a sweet vinegar that will turn the ginger a pink color (think of s side for sushi here). Generally, the older the ginger at the time of harvest will determine whether you should peel your ginger.
Younger ginger has a thin skin that can easily be eaten while older ginger has a tougher skin and usually has to be peeled. Expect older ginger to be more pungent or sharp in flavor but also more fibrous. This is the older stuff manufacturers will usually use for ground dried ginger found commonly in spice racks everywhere. Its used for making cookies, cakes, and lets not forget.. curries.
Crystallized ginger is more commonly referred to as candied ginger and is just ginger root cooked in sugar syrup and then tossed and coated with granulated sugar (the finer your sugar the better candied ginger turns out in my opinion).
How do you make ginger tea with fresh ginger root?
Fresh ginger root tea differs from dried ginger tea when it comes to potency in my opinion. You’ll find the dried ginger in commercial teas and tea bag blends. They tend to be milder than fresh ginger root tea. Making fresh ginger root tea is a favorite of mine and I’m glad to share the recipe here.
Think of this as a base flavor tea that tastes fantastic on its own and it also takes well to additional flavors and spices if you desire. I personally add turmeric and lemon.
The more ginger coins you use will determine how intense your ginger tea is going to be.. so add or subtract as desired.You can drain the ginger coins but quite honestly, slice them thin enough and you can eat them right from the tea. They are GREAT to chew on.
How do you store ginger root?
Fresh ginger root lasts quite a while in the refrigerator. If you want to freeze it (yes it can be frozen), you have to peel and chop it first. Generally speaking you’re looking at a cool and dry place to store in your pantry. If ginger root is sold as peeled and chopped, then it should be refrigerated when you get it home. How does your market sell it? In the produce section?.. not necessarily refrigerated and away from the moisture sprayers?
How the market treats your produce is a good indication on how to keep your produce at home. The market wants the product to last as long as it can and still remain fresh while on display. If you’re buying ginger root in the paste form, you can expect it last for a few months and there will be or should be a “best if bought by” date. That means the paste also has to be refrigerated.