What Is Ginger?
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a perennial herbaceous plant with pungent underground stems called rhizomes.
Ginger is an ancient sterile cultigen which is no longer found growing wild. It is propagated by division in late spring.
Also Known As: common ginger, canton ginger, stem ginger
It’s critical to remember that just because ginger is well known, natural and can be found locally doesn’t mean that it should be used in all circumstances.
Ginger can interact with prescription drugs, so it should be discussed with a physician when taking with other medications.
Ginger, in its many forms, is used to add flavor to a wide range of dishes and drinks including starters, main courses and desserts. It is generally used in small amounts.
How fresh ginger is used in cooking is determined by whether the ginger is young or mature. Young fresh ginger is pale in colour and has thin skin which does not require peeling. It can be diced, chopped, grated and julienned. Mature fresh ginger, which is the most widely available form in the West, has tougher skin and does require peeling. It can be diced, chopped, grated and ground.
Ground (or powdered) ginger is made by cleaning, slicing, drying and grounding fresh ginger. It is far more potent than fresh ginger and can be used as a substitute at the rate of one part ground to 6 parts fresh.
These are strips of young and tender ginger which have been coated and impregnated with sugar and stored in syrup. This versatile form of ginger can be eaten on its own as a snack, added to prepared dishes such as cottage cheese and ice cream, added to a cup of tea or eaten with an espresso, or used in cooking & baking. It is also known as candied ginger.
Dried ginger (sliced, not ground) tends to be used in fruit dishes, gingerbread, gingersnaps and many savoury dishes (e.g. soups, curries & meat). Many traditional European & Middle Eastern dishes specify dried ginger as this form was the only way that ginger could be viably transported over long distances.
Preserved, or candied, ginger is ginger that has been peeled, cooked and then preserved in a sugar syrup. It is commonly used in confectionery or as an ingredient in desserts.
Pickled ginger is a form of ginger popular in the Far East, particularly in Japan where it is known as gari. It is commonly used between courses to cleanse the palate.