Ginger Root

Ginger 101 – The Basics

Ginger root has been used for thousands of years for its culinary and medicinal properties. Fresh ginger knobs can be intimidating if you don’t know what to do with them. In the video below, I cover a wide array of information about ginger from what it is, to its medicinal properties, to how to cook with it, and more. My video notes are below for your personal use. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Ginger 101 – The Basics

About Ginger
Ginger is a rhizome (Zingiber officinale) that is related to turmeric. It has a thick underground stem that produces roots and shoots. The plant can grow up to three feet high and produce from two to five sections that can be harvested year-round. After the sections are washed and dried in the sun, they can be used for culinary or medicinal purposes. Ginger grows well in a warm, damp climate, with most of the world’s ginger being grown in China, India, Australia, and Jamaica. The flesh of ginger can be yellow, white or red, depending on the variety, and has a pungent and spicy aroma and flavor.

Medicinal Properties
Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, where it has been used by Chinese and Indian healers for thousands of years. It is still used today for both its culinary and medicinal benefits. Consuming ginger may help to reduce muscle soreness, inflammation, and relieve arthritis pain in a similar, yet more comprehensive way than NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen). And, when taken in normal amounts, ginger does not appear to harm the stomach nor kidneys, like NSAIDS can.

Ginger may also help to reduce nausea, improve digestion and sooth upset stomachs, control high blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels, fight cancer, destroy harmful pathogens in the digestive tract, relieve migraine headaches, and clear skin blemishes.

Precautionary advice: Large amounts of ginger taken at one time (such as eating a whole knob at one time) may interfere with calcium channel blockers and drugs that lower blood sugar. Eating such a large amount at once may also cause heartburn, diarrhea, and mouth irritation.

Nutrition Tidbits
Ginger has an array of vitamins and minerals in trace amounts. So, with regard to essential nutrients, it doesn’t have much to offer. However, its value as a spice and its extensive medicinal properties far outweigh its nutritional value.

How to Select Fresh Ginger
Choose pieces that look fresh with smooth skin with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. Avoid pieces that are soft, wrinkled, or moldy.

How to Store Ginger
Store unpeeled ginger tightly wrapped in plastic (or in a zip-lock bag with the air removed) and in the refrigerator. Be sure it is completely dry before wrapping it, or that will invite mold. It should last about a month in the refrigerator when stored properly. Throw it out if it develops mold.

How to Preserve Ginger
Ginger is found fresh, dried, crystallized, and even pickled.

Peeled fresh ginger can be stored for weeks in a glass jar covered with vodka or some other alcoholic beverage.

Fresh ginger can be stored in the freezer. Simply peel then grate the ginger. Put it on a parchment-lined baking tray in increments you plan to use it (ie in one teaspoon mounds). Freeze until solid, then transfer the mounds to an air-tight container and return them to the freezer. They should keep for about 6 months. It can be used frozen or will quickly thaw when needed.

Ginger can also be frozen by simply cutting the unpeeled root into one-inch chunks. Place chunks on a plate or baking sheet and freeze. Transfer to freezer bags and return them to the freezer.

To dry fresh ginger, peel and cut it into small pieces, then follow manufacturer’s directions for drying.

How to Prepare Ginger
Fresh ginger needs to be peeled before eaten. It can be peeled with a knife or scraped with the tip of a teaspoon.

Cooking/Serving Methods
Use ginger anywhere you want its sharp spicy flavor. This includes dipping sauces, dressings, rubs, pesto, teas, and even smoothies. To convert a recipe from dried ginger, use 6 parts fresh grated ginger for 1 part of dried ground ginger.

Serving ideas
Drink it! Try ginger tea with lemon for a comforting drink, especially if you have a sore throat. It’s also a great addition to cocktails and mixed drinks!

Add ginger to juices and smoothies.

Add ginger to a raw beet salad.

Ginger, carrots, and sweet potato are a flavorful combo for soup.

Winter holidays just aren’t right without ginger: Ginger biscotti or cookies, and gingerbread.

Herbs/Spices That Go With Ginger
Basil, chili, cilantro, cumin, curry, garam masala, lemongrass, mint, miso, turmeric, wasabi

Foods That Go Well With Ginger
Produce: apples, apricots, asparagus, bell peppers, blueberries, bok choy, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cherries, collard greens, cranberries, edamame, eggplant, fennel, figs, garlic, kiwi, lemon, lime, melon, mushrooms, onion, orange, peaches, pear, plums, potatoes, pumpkin, scallions, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tamarind, watercress, zucchini

Savory: poultry, fish, beef, seafood, oats, rice, tofu, almonds, tahini, seitan, chickpeas, grains, and lentils

Other: sesame oil, soy sauce, tamari, sake, rum, seaweed, honey, cream, and yogurt

Suggested Flavor Combinations
Ginger + Cream + Honey
Ginger + Cilantro + Scallions + Garlic
Ginger + Beef + Broccoli + Soy Sauce
Ginger + Celery + Carrot + Garlic
Ginger + Carrot
Ginger + Soy Sauce

Recipe Links
29 Ginger Recipes That Will Spice Up Your Life

Ginger Tea With Honey and Lemon

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup with Toasted Curry Croutons

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Chess Pie

101 Ways to Cook With Ginger

20 Sweet Ginger Desserts!ina-garten-pumpkin-roulade-with-ginger-buttercream

53 Ginger Recipes That Are Just The Right Amount of Spicy

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.


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