What is so special about ginger?
Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant, whose root or rhizome is used as a spice. It can be consumed in many forms, fresh, dried, powdered, and in the form of oil and juice.
Ginger is a tropical flowering plant in the same family as turmeric and cardamon. It is native to tropical Asia, possible India. Today it is mainly cultivated on India's Malabar coast which produces 50 per cent of the world's fresh crop. Ginger is also grown in parts of Africa, Jamaica, Mexico, North America, and Peru. Jamaica has the reputation of producing high quality ginger.
It was one of the first Asian spices to reach Europe around the 4th century with Arab traders. The Greeks prescribed it for stomach complaints, and the Romans used it in sauces and to make aromatic salt.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Nowadays it is widely believed to help with nausea and especially pregnant women swear by it.
Ginger works will with many dishes and it is widely used in Asian cooking. Do not use ground dried ginger in place of the fresh ginger, as it has a different flavour profile.
Try adding freshly grated ginger to slow-cooked pork to offset the fattiness or poach sliced ginger with pears and rhubarb for desserts.
We added ginger in our Rooibos Chai and Spiced Orange Rooibos to add a bit of zing.
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