Ginger

Ginger whole, candied, ground, grated, sherdded, sliced and paste 

Ginger (Zingiber officinale), a subtropical plant, is grown for its spicy, aromatic, gnarled, and bumpy root (rhizome or underground stem), which is used as a seasoning in foods. The root has tan skin, ivory to pale green flesh, and a peppery, slightly sweet flavour. Ginger is planted in August or September using the previous year's crop. Ginger takes about nine months to reach maturity. After the flowers appear, the tops begin to die, leaving the ginger rhizomes ready to harvest.

Ginger is a mainstay of Asian and Indian cooking and is used grated, ground and slivered. Ginger juice is the juice of the root. Candied or crystallized ginger is ginger cooked in a sugar syrup, while preserved ginger is in a sugar-salt mixture: both of these are used primarily for sweets and desserts. Pickled ginger, used as a palate cleanser with sushi, is ginger preserved in sweet vinegar.

The Chinese and Japanese consider ginger a yang, or hot, food, which balances cooling yin foods to create harmony.

Season
Fresh ginger is available year-round with peak season March through September.
Purchase
Fresh ginger can be found year round in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for smooth skin with a fresh, spicy fragrance. Tubers should be firm and feel heavy. Length is a sign of maturity, and mature rhizomes will be hotter and more fibrous. Also available dried and ground in the spice section. Specialty or Asian markets carry ginger juice, pickled ginger and preserved ginger.
Avoid
Avoid those with wrinkled flesh, as this is an indication of aged ginger past its prime.
Storage
Fresh, unpeeled root should be wrapped in paper towels, placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated up to three weeks. It can also be tightly wrapped and frozen up to two months. (To use frozen ginger, slice off a piece of unthawed root. Re-wrap unused portion tightly and return to the freezer.) Dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark space in an airtight container. Pickled and preserved ginger should be kept in their original containers in the refrigerator. Store crystallized ginger in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to three months.
Preparation
    Ginger Grater 
  1. Trim off as small a knob as needed.

  2. Peel using a vegetable peeler or the edge of a spoon.

  3. Grate with a ginger grater or slice across the grain, or chop finely as needed.

Uses
Serving Suggestions
Ginger In Its Many Forms
Fresh Ginger
Fresh Ginger 
Available in in two forms: young and mature. Young roots, also called green or spring ginger, has a pale, thin skin that requires no peeling, is very tender and has a milder flavour. It can be grated, chopped, or julienned for use. Mature ginger root has a tough skin that must be peeled away to get to the fibrous flesh and is usually grated, chopped or ground for use.
Ground Ginger
Ground Ginger 
Also referred to as powdered, this dried, ground form is quite different than fresh. It is readily available in standard supermarkets, and is used primarily in sweets and curry mixes.
Pickled Ginger
Pickled Ginger 
Called gari or beni shoga in Japan, this form is pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually coloured bright red or pink. It is a familiar accompaniment to sushi and is also eaten to refresh the breath. Available at Asian markets, it should be kept refrigerated in its container.
Preserved Ginger
Preserved Ginger 
Also available in Asian and specialty markets, this form has been preserved in a sugar-salt mixture. It is generally used as a confection or added to desserts, and it is especially good with melons.
Ginger in Syrup
Ginger in Syrup 
Ginger in syrup is fresh ginger that has been cooked in sugar and water, which creates a sweet ginger flavoured syrup. The cooked ginger is then stored in the syrup and they are used in jams, sauces, and baked goods. The syrup can also be added to soda water and other ingredients to create a ginger flavoured beverage.
Crystallized Ginger
Crystallized Ginger 
Also known as candied ginger, this form has been cooked in a sugar syrup until tender and then coated with granulated sugar. It is commonly used in desserts and can easily be made at home.
Ginger Juice
Ginger Juice 
The juice of ginger is another form that can be used for cooking and baking, making it an easy method to add ginger to foods. In most recipes it can be used instead of fresh or ground ginger, adding it to marinades, grilling sauces, salad dressings, stir-fried foods, meats, fish, poultry, soups, and beverages, such as teas or fruit drinks. Ginger juice can be substituted for ground or powdered ginger. 1 tablespoon of juice equals 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger or 1 teaspoon of ground ginger.
Substitutions
1/8 tsp ground ginger = 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (though the flavour of ground ginger can be significantly different from fresh).
Flavour Affinities
  • beef

  • carrots

  • chicken

  • chocolate

  • curry

  • duck

  • fish

  • fruit

  • ham

  • honey

  • ice cream

  • melon

  • onions

  • pork

  • puddings

  • pumpkin

  • rice

  • salad

  • saté

  • seafood

  • sesame oil

  • soy sauce

  • sushi

  • sugar

  • tomatoes

Category: Spices and Herbs

Sub Category: Spice