Botanical name Zingiber officinale ▪ Family name Zingiberaceae
Ginger is the rhizome of the ginger plant. The rhizomes are easily transported and Arab traders introduced this plant to East Africa many centuries ago. In the world trade, Jamaican ginger is rated the highest but production is very limited. Ginger from the Kerala region of India is also renowned for its quality.
Native range India, China
Major producers India, China, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, Australia
Harvesting Harvesting takes place about 9 months after planting and in many parts of the world is still done by hand. Much of the crop is washed, then sun-dried and ground to a powder for domestic and commercial use.
Taste and aroma Ginger has a warm lemony aroma and the taste is fiery, pungent, and penetrating.
Culinary uses Fresh root ginger is widely used in many cuisines, including a variety of stir-fry and curry dishes in India and Oriental countries. Ground ginger is essential in much Western baking including cakes, biscuits, and traditional gingerbread. Dried ginger has a different taste to fresh ginger, and one should not be substituted for the other.
Other uses The essential oil from this spice is often used in the production of perfumes.
Historical uses The Assyrians and Babylonians used ginger in their cooking, as did the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Ginger was used as a table condiment in Europe by the 9th century and such was the demand by the 16th century that the Spanish and Portuguese were planting it in their new tropical territories.
Storage Fresh ginger rhizomes keep well in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Good quality dried rhizomes will keep their flavour for 2 years or more when stored in an airtight container.
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