Season for Ginger Available Year Round

Ginger Described

Knobby and Gnarly, ginger is as tantalizing to the palate as it is to the eyes with aromatic, pungent and spicy notes all its own. Also called ginger root, ginger is not actually a root at all, but rather a fleshy rhizome. Rhizomes are the underground stems of the ginger plant, that branch out with ginger’s characteristic thick, thumb-like protrusions. Depending on the variety, ginger’s flesh can be yellow, white or red in color and is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thin if it was harvested young or thicker if it was harvested when mature.

How to Buy and Store Ginger

Whenever possible, we say opt for fresh ginger over its dried counterpart – both superior in flavor and health-promoting qualities. You’ll most likely be buying mature ginger (as opposed to young ginger that has thin skin you don’t have to peel), so go for plumpish specimens with smooth, hard skin with a slight sheen. Avoid those with wrinkled, soft skins or pieces that are very light in weight, meaning they might be a little dried up. If you come across Hawaiian ginger, go for it! It’s thin skin and practically fiber-free flesh make it a win-win. 

Store fresh unpeeled ginger in a cool, dark place for up to 5 days, but to extend your ginger’s life, you can wrap it in a paper towel and store in the fridge for up to a month.

Ginger is also available in several other forms including powdered, crystallized, candied and pickled.

How to Cook Ginger

Fresh ginger is amazingly versatile. You can grate it, slice it, chop or crush it, dry it, pickle it, candy it or preserve it! Many a gingerbread cookie or ginger snap has capitalized on the characteristic sweet spiciness of ground ginger, and although you shouldn’t use ground ginger where a recipe calls for the fresh stuff, keep in mind it’s not the same when you go the other way around. You may want to bake in fresh ginger to your next dessert, much to your delight (if a recipe calls for 1 tsp ground ginger, use 6 tsp of fresh ginger). 

You want to peel your fresh mature ginger with a peeler,  paring knife or spoon, after which you can grate, thinly slice, mince or coarsely chop it to your liking. You also have the option of pounded ginger into a paste with a mortar and pestle.

Not sure where to start with ginger? Try a Morning Ginger Power Shot in lieu of coffee; our Ginger Snow Pea Recipe or a Ginger Digestif Cocktail.

Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger has long been revered for being a highly effective natural cure for any number of ailments – particularly when it comes to gastrointestinal distress, as it has carminative and intestinal spasmolytic properties. Hence, ginger ale. It’s also been shown to ease motion sickness with its nausea-fighting properties (also helpful for those undergoing chemo) and is always prescribed for an upset stomach of any kind. But ginger has much more than just that going for it! Modern science has revealed ginger is loaded with antioxidant effects. If fact, one teaspoon of ginger has similar antioxidant levels as one cup of spinach! And is a great source of potassium. Gingerols, compounds found in ginger, are said to thin the blood and help reduce pain like aspirin does. 

Why Buy Natural and Organic Ginger

Ginger bought from the grocery store is likely to be imported from faraway lands, so we strongly recommend buying it from your local farmers market to lessen your carbon foodprint. In addition – being rhizomes, or essentially roots themselves – ginger is likely to absorb any and all pesticides from its soil. Whenever possible, in whatever form, purchase ginger that has been grown organically. Most importantly, when purchasing dried ginger powder, since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated, or fumigated in any other potentially harmful way.

image: Crystl