Ginger Root


A knobby, fibrous root, has smooth light brown skin with a sheen to it.

Article by: Barbara Bowman

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About Ginger Root

Ginger, a knobby, fibrous root, has smooth light brown skin with a sheen to it. The flesh of the root is white. Ginger root is a seasoning and flavors sweets, including cakes, cookies, breads, and beverages. It is also good in sauces, and fruit dishes, and is often used heavily in Asian cooking. When buying, look for ginger root with the least amount of knots and/or branching.

Medicinal Uses

Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and general stomach upset due to its carminative effect that helps break up and expel intestinal gas. Ginger tea has been recommended to alleviate nausea in chemotherapy patients primarily because its natural properties do not interact in a negative way with other medications. It is a safe remedy for morning sickness, since it will not harm the fetus. Some studies show ginger may also help prevent certain forms of cancer.

To make ginger tea, slice some ginger root, put it in a tea ball and place in a teapot. Pour boiling water over the tea ball and let it sit for ten minutes. Sweeten with honey or drink it straight.

In spite of it being a natural remedy, it's important that any medicinal use of ginger be discussed with a physician, as it must be taken in moderation to avoid gastric irritation.

Ginger is also said to stimulate gastric juices, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs.

Selection & Storage

Fresh ginger can be found year round in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for smooth skin with a fresh, spicy fragrance. Tubers should be firm and feel heavy. Length is a sign of maturity, and mature rhizomes will be hotter and more fibrous. Avoid those with wrinkled flesh, as this is an indication of aged ginger past its prime.

Fresh, unpeeled root should be wrapped in paper towels, placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated up to three weeks. It can also be tightly wrapped and frozen up to two months. (To use frozen ginger, slice off a piece of unthawed root. Re-wrap unused portion tightly and return to the freezer.) Peeled gingerroot can be stored in Madeira or Sherry wine in a glass container in the refrigerator up to three months. However, storing peeled ginger in wine will impart a wine flavor to the end ginger dish, so you may wish to forego this pre-prepared method for use in dishes where a wine flavor is not desirable. Dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark space in an airtight container. Pickled and preserved ginger should be kept in their original containers in the refrigerator. Store crystallized ginger in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to three months.

Ginger In Its Many Forms

fresh ginger Dried Ginger
Available in in two forms: young and mature. Young roots, also called green or spring ginger, has a pale, thin skin that requires no peeling, is very tender and has a milder flavor. It can be grated, chopped, or julienned for use. Mature ginger root has a tough skin that must be peeled away to get to the fibrous flesh and is usually grated, chopped or ground for use.
(dried ginger graphic) Dried Ginger
This form is usually found in whole fingers and also in slices. It is usually soaked in recipe liquid before using.
pickled ginger Pickled GingerCalled gari or beni shoga in Japan, this form is pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually colored bright red or pink. It is a familiar accompaniment to sushi and is also eaten to refresh the breath. Available at Asian markets, it should be kept refrigerated in its container.
preserved ginger Preserved Ginger
Also available in Asian and specialty markets, this form has been preserved in a sugar-salt mixture. It is generally used as a confection or added to desserts, and it is especially good with melons.
Crystalized candied ginger Crystallized Ginger
Also known as candied ginger, this form has been cooked in a sugar syrup until tender and then coated with granulated sugar. It is commonly used in desserts and can easily be made at home.
(ground ginger graphic) Ground Ginger
Also referred to as powdered, this dried, ground form is quite different than fresh. It is readily available in standard supermarkets, and is used primarily in sweets and curry mixes.
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Toasty Buns

This is the very best article yet that I have found about very basic how-to with ginger.  I thought the video and recipes in the sidebar were also terrific!

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Ginger Recipes

Preserving Ginger

There are several methods of preserving ginger. The preserved product may not be a substitute for fresh but each has a variety of uses.

Ginger oil
Place twelve slices of peeled ginger and a half cup of peanut oil in a small frying pan and cooking over medium heat until the ginger is browned and the oil is almost smoking. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the ginger slices with a slotted spoon. The remaining oil can be used in sauces, dressings, or even over pasta.

Hot Ginger Oil
Use the above recipe and add 1 or 2 whole, dried hot peppers (such as Thai peppers). Experiment with the quantity, these peppers tend to be hot.

Ginger pickle
50g fresh ginger (about a 3" long piece)
4 red chilies (such as Thai or chile de Arbol)
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
2 sprigs curry leaves
A small piece of palm sugar

Chop the ginger into small pieces and fry in a pan with little oil. Add red chilies, curry leaves and fry for about 2 minutes.. Remove and cool.

Add mixture plus the tamarind and salt to a mortar bowl and use the pestle to grind to a fine paste. Add the palm sugar and blend for another minute.

Ginger Juice - Make your own fresh ginger juice by pressing pieces of fresh ginger through a garlic press. (Tip from Lily Loh, cooking school instructor).

Freezing Fresh Ginger
Wrap unpeeled "hand" of ginger in plastic food wrap.

Slip into plastic zipper bag, press out air, seal, label, and date.

Store on freezer door shelf. Maximum storage time is 4 months.

To use, cut off the amount you need. A 1-inch square = 1 tablespoon minced ginger.

Combine these 2 ingredients to make ginger wine:

1 tbsp ginger juice (see above)
1 tbsp Shao Hsing Hua Tiao cooking wine

Five Flavor Oil ( cup):
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons scallion, chopped
1 tablespoon sliced ginger
Pinch Sichuan peppercorn
Pinch of red pepper flake

Homemade crystallized ginger
Peel and thinly slice 1 pound (500 grams) fresh gingerroot. Place in a saucepan, add water to cover, and cook gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. Weigh and place in a saucepan with an equal amount of sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, stirring often, until the ginger is transparent and the liquid is almost evaporated. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until almost dry. Toss the cooked ginger in sugar to coat. Store in an airtight jar for up to three months.