Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Ginger is considered a part of the spice and condiment group because of its typical pungency and finds use extensively in food preparation in many Asian countries. Its quality depends on the variety cultivated and the geographical region where it is grown. As mature rhizome contains significant quantities of fiber, western consumers often prefer tender ones and the taste and flavor of this product are considered mild. Mature ginger contains 1-3% essential oil comprising of Zingerone, Shogaols and Gingerols, all with pungent smell and taste.While mature ginger is often used after drying and powdering, though fresh ones find also use in many preparations originating from Korea, China, japan, India and many South Asian countries. Ginger is also processed into Candy (crystallized ginger) and Wine. Tender ginger also called Baby ginger or Spring ginger is pickled in Vinegar or Sherry and can be eaten as a snack. Steeped in boiling water one can also make Ginger Tea, with or without honey, slices of orange or lemon fruit which is relished by many. Baby ginger seems to have developed a significant clientele in the US and it is grown locally for meeting the emerging demand. Here is a take on this adventure of Ginger into a country where pungency is often frowned upon.     

"Despite the name, spring ginger — the immature rhizome, or subterranean stem, of Zingiber officinale — is a fall crop, imported from countries south of the Equator where the growing season is the opposite of ours. And the nomenclature is even more confusing: labels like spring ginger, pink ginger, baby ginger and young ginger refer to the same plant at different stages in its 11-month growing season. (But the names are hardly codified, so which one is used often depends on the user.) The earliest harvest, at five months, is called baby ginger, a creamy white bulb with vibrantly colored pink shoots, like a breakfast radish.  It is traditionally used to make gari, the pink ginger pickle served in Japanese cuisine. Because of its tender, undeveloped fibers (it's the veal of ginger), baby ginger is ideal for candying. It is fairly unlikely you will see baby ginger in Chinatown, as the vast majority of ginger is imported, and the baby variety doesn't travel well. What is commonly called spring ginger (and in Chinatown, young ginger) is more mature. "It's actually teen ginger," said Bill Cox, who grows baby ginger on his Casselmonte Farm in Powhatan, Va".

Extensive use of Ginger in meat and fish preparation by Oriental population serves the purpose of enhancing the flavor and texture of the final product and it is a question of time before such culinary practices get popular in Western countries also due to the influence of the Asian immigrant population there. Already oleoresin preparations from Ginger are being exported from India which find extensive use in flavor mixes locally. Ginger whether tender or mature can be expected to contribute to the well being of Americans as this Kitchen Spice has a significant influence in protecting the health of the guts by eliminating many pathogens. It is an established fact that the microbiome of an average American is incapable of fighting many stomach infections and Ginger may help in restoring the health of the gut flora into a versatile one with better infection fighting capabilities.


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