Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It has an unmistakable shape - bulbous little joints, from which grow small, knobbly bumps, and its skin is light brown with a slight silvery quality. The flesh can range from ivory through to a pale, greeny yellow.
Ginger has a peppery flavour, with a sweet hint of lemon, and the aroma is pungent and sharp. It's also available ground, which is particularly good for baking; pickled; preserved in syrup (also called stem ginger); candied; or crystallised.
All year round.
Choose the best
Go for plump, unblemished roots. Avoid wrinkled roots, as they're likely to be tough and fibrous. If possible, avoid any that are very knobbly, as they'll be harder work to peel. Roots should also feel heavy for their size.
Jamican and Kenyan ginger is thought to be the best.
Snap off a knob of ginger of the size you need then, using a small, sharp knive, peel away the skin, removing only a thin layer of the flesh beneath. Then grate, slice, cut into batons or crush.
Fresh ginger will keep for around 2 weeks in a perforated bag stored in the fridge. The ground variety should keep for around 6 months if stored in a small, airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Add raw ginger to stir-fries or curries; use in marinades; grate to make tea. Dried ginger works well in puddings, flapjacks and fruit cakes or stewed fruits, particularly apple.
Health benefits of Ginger
The health benefits of ginger consumption and various ginger uses include the following:
- anti-parasites – helps destroy parasites and their eggs
- appetite – stimulates it
- arthritis – helps to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with this condition
- blood – thins the blood, thus helping those who suffer from frequent blood clots
- cholesterol levels – helps to regulate high cholesterol
- circulatory system – stimulates it, increasing circulation; this helps those with poor circulation to the hands and feet, as well as those with pale complexion
- colds and flu
- cough – serves as an expectorant, clearing the lungs
- digestion – improves it; tones, nourishes and strengthens the gastrointestinal / digestive system; ginger also helps to deal with indigestion and upset stomach
- energy and vitality – stimulates vital energies of those who are weak or lethargic
- fever – helps to bring it down by promoting sweating
- flatulence and abdominal bloating and gas – helps alleviate it
- food poisoning
- heart – good for heart health
- hypertension or high blood pressure – ginger root regulates the condition
- intestinal infections
- kidneys – ginger tea is said to strengthen them
- lungs – ginger tea is said to strengthen it
- menstrual cramps – helps alleviate the symptoms
- muscle aches
- nausea – helps alleviate it, including those caused by morning sickness and motion sickness; can also be used as a preventative against motion sickness
- reproductive system – improves its function
- rheumatism – helps relieve the condition
- ulcers – may help to treat it
- weight loss – ginger tea is believed to assist with it
Plum ginger chicken recipe
Avocado salad with ginger dressing
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