… I love you Ginger because you are so Versatile – a spicy flavour kick that is so good for me as well! (… and okay, my hair is a bit reddish too 😊)
- It is an excellent flavoring agent to use in both savoury and sweet recipes for cooking.
- As well as a long culinary history, it also many health benefits and tradition of safe medicinal use.
- It is brilliant in teas as the main character or to enhance other flavours. Ginger is a dominant ingredient in most versions of “Masala Chai" (Spice Tea) and herbal classics like "Ginger Kiss" but also in smaller quantities can add its wonderful flavour and medicinal qualities to other teas like "Strength".
Growing and processing?
Zingiber officinale grows best in warm and damp areas. It is native to maritime southeast Asia and goes well in Tropical North Queensland. There are also many other varieties of Gingers that have beautiful showy flowers but are non-edible.
The Root (Rhizome) is usually harvested between 6 and 18 months. The younger root is milder and can just washed and any rough skin rubbed off and then grated or crushed without peeling. Older root has a stronger aromatic and pungent flavour so is best peeled first or dried as kibble and ground as powder. Young root can also be sliced and pickled or crystalised.
I find that the dried "kibble" pieces or ground powder tends to work best as the mainstay ingredient for teas that you want to make simply by just adding boiling water and steeping. Crushed fresh ginger also works well if simmered gently in a saucepan with water and then add honey and lemon to serve or for do it yourself masala chai. Thin slices of fresh ginger are a wonderful enhancement to any tea just before drinking. I suggest you try this with plain green or black tea instead of adding sweetener or milk.
Most savoury food recipes will suit fresh grated, crushed or thin slices of ginger and most sweet food recipes dried or powdered. On its own, too much ginger can be harsh and drying to the throat so blending with other ingredients is useful to make it more palatable and these can often enhance the therapeutic qualities.
Some of my favourite "mix and match" (no actual recipe needed) Savoury flavour combos are to add fresh grated or crushed ginger to fish, prawns, chicken, vegetables, pork, etc and then either: Garlic & Chilli, Lemongrass & Coriander, Turmeric & Pepper, Soy & Wasabi.
Some of my favourite "mix and match" (no actual recipe needed) Sweet flavour combos are to add dried powdered ginger to flavour your basic muffin, pancakes, cookie or cake recipe and then either: Cinnamon & Nutmeg, Cardamom & Clove, Star Anise & Orange Peel, Cocoa & Coconut.
WHY IS GINGER GOOD FOR YOU?
"Everything good is found in ginger" is an old Indian proverb
Ginger has a long tradition in herbal and complimentary medicine. Indian Ayurvedic medicine recommends it to balance all doshas, especially Kapha. It features in Chinese Medicine as a warming instrument to treat nausea and cold and flu symptoms. From the Middle Ages, European Apothecaries used ginger for digestive disorders and was presumably much safer than bloodletting.
Gingerol is the main bio-active compound that is Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant. Researchers believe this and other compounds found in ginger work primarily in the stomach and intestines, but they may also work in the brain and nervous system.
Aid Digestion: Reduce Bloating and Gas. It can help you absorb other nutrients and encourage elimination of waste products.
Reduce Nausea: Travel Motion / Sea Sickness, Morning sickness and can be a worthwhile natural alternative to more drugs after chemotherapy.
Diabetes: May help control blood sugar and insulin levels. It may also improve triglycerides and reduce LDL cholesterol.
Cold and Flu Symptoms: Clear nasal and respiratory passages when taken orally but also when inhaled as steam.
Muscle soreness from exercise, weightlifting, stretching: It is thought that ginger can help flush lactic acid from the body quicker and regular consumption will aid recovery as part of an exercise program.
Osteoarthritis: studies have shown Ginger to significantly lower inflammatory markers in people with osteoarthritis of the knee, but further research is needed.
Weight Loss: The spicy kick in ginger can add flavour without the calories of sugar or other sweeteners and promotes feeling of fullness and reduced hunger pains. There is no evidence however to indicate it will make you lose weight.
Alzheimer's: animal studies that ginger will lessen age related brain function decline, inhibit inflammatory responses, age related cognitive decline but there is still no clinical evidence to support this in humans.
A naturopath or herbalist may recommend ginger to treat menstrual cramps, tension headaches, thyroid problems, lupus, eczema, psoriasis and shingles.
Other reported benefits for some people include the ability to strengthen immunity, reduce stress, settle insomnia and relieve IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a complicated set of symptoms with different triggers for different people but is worth trying with caution as part of a management plan.
Everyone is different! This may be stating the obvious, but your previous and current diet and predisposition from inherited and environmental factors
Ginger is a versatile spice with a delightful aroma and flavour that for most people can be used safely and beneficially daily. However, it may interfere with some medications like Warfarin and whilst ginger can be great for morning sickness, it may be contraindicated for some pregnant women.
Natural Herbal teas tend to work quite gently, and this means you may have to have patience to feel the benefits rather than seeing a "quick fix". However, consuming your herbal remedies in tea form also means it reduces the danger of overdosing by taking too much at once. Just because something is good for you, large doses are not necessarily better!
Before you suddenly start drinking large amounts of any tea, herb or spice – especially in concentrated processed powders or capsules, I recommend you consult and qualified naturopath or herbalist who can help you consider your individual needs and anything contraindications to other dietary or medications you may have.
“I make it a rule to try everything," she said. "Don't you think it would be very annoying if you tasted ginger for the first time on your deathbed, and found you never liked anything so much? I should be so exceedingly annoyed that I think I should get well on that account alone.” ― Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out
There is a myriad of information out there on ginger but if you want to read more I suggest you try: