Gingerbread, ginger beer, and gingersnaps are all made possible by a knobby little vegetable called – you guessed it – ginger. At the grocery store, you can buy ginger in a variety of forms, including fresh and whole, dried and powdered, preserved, crystallized, or even pickled. At Countryside Farmers’ Markets, you will find ginger fresh and whole. It is best to buy ginger like this because it will provide the best flavor and has the highest levels of gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Let’s take a closer look at the ginger plant itself!
The plant is native to south-east Asia. Today, India leads the world in ginger production, producing about 30% of the world’s supply. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Statistics Division, 2.2 million tons of ginger are produced annually around the globe!
Although commonly called ginger root, ginger is actually a rhizome. A rhizome is a fleshy underground stem. These stems grow horizontally, rather than vertically. They grow both roots tracking down and plantlets growing upwards. The shoots and leaves that we see growing above ground are edible too! Although not as popularly used as the rhizome, these green parts of the plant can be used for teas – as a garnish (similar to chives) or for broth flavorings (similar to a bay leaf).
Depending on when the ginger is harvested will determine how to prepare it. The “young” ginger or spring ginger, doesn’t need to be peeled and has a milder flavor. Mature ginger is probably what you will be most accustomed to seeing. This has a tough outer skin and will need to be peeled before eating. When shopping, look for ginger that has smooth skin, with no signs of mold or wrinkles. Wrinkles and cracks may indicate that the rhizome is past its prime. Once you bring it home, unpeeled ginger will keep in the fridge for several weeks.
In the kitchen, ginger is used as a spice, but has historically been used for medicinal purposes. Ginger is a diaphoretic, which means it encourages sweating, which may help in treating fevers, the flu, or colds. There is also evidence that ginger can reduce dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Finally, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties when eaten regularly.
Back in the 13th and 14th centuries, it is said that you could buy a sheep with a payment of one pound of ginger. While one pound of ginger probably won’t get you very far today, you can use it in some of the recipes below!
Countryside Original Recipe
- 2 cups water
- 1 inch of fresh ginger
- 2 lemon wedges
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Boil the water.
- Peel ginger and chop into disks.
- Once water starts to boil, remove from heat and add ginger. Let steep for a few minutes.
- Strain tea, and add lemon and honey. Enjoy!
Pineapple, Fig, and Ginger Chutney
Recipe from BBC Good Food
- 1 large pineapple, roughly chopped
- 1 pound apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 2 inches fresh ginger, finely chopped
- ⅓ pound Dried figs, chopped
- 2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups Cider Vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cups Sugar
- Place pineapple in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place in a large wide pan with the apples, ginger, onion, figs, spices, vinegar, and salt.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 10 minutes until apples soften.
- Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chutney is thickened.
- Pot into warm, sterilized jars.
Ginger Beef Stir Fry
Countryside Original Recipe
- 1 pound of stir fry beef
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, grated
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- 1 Bell Pepper, chopped
- 2 cups of greens, roughly chopped
- 1 cup string beans
- 1 ½ cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- In a skillet, cook beef strips. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, add oil, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add veggies to pan and cook until soft.
- Add beef to the pan.
- Stir together beef broth and cornstarch and pour over the mixture. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute.