The spicy all-rounder
Ginger is part of many European households by now. The product variety of the spicy root, which is now available almost everywhere, ranges from the basic product, namely the root, to powders, tea bags and even liqueurs. Here you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about ginger – but especially, of course, how to best integrate it into your repertoire of recipes.
Botany, Origin & Medicine
Ginger takes its name from the Latin “zingiber”. It is considered one of the most popular spices and was already widely used in ancient times. Botanically, as the name suggests, it belongs to the ginger family and is a so-called rhizome, i.e. a rootstock. It owes its spiciness to the substance gingerol, which, however, loses intensity with prolonged storage. Thus, the spiciness is also an indication of the freshness of the root.
Originally, ginger comes from Asia, probably from southern China. Today, however, it is cultivated in all tropical areas of the world, with India accounting for about 50% of production. Other cultivation areas are Africa, Latin America, Jamaica and of course China.
The effect of the ginger tuber cannot be neglected in medicine either. Whether for colds or as a regular boost for the immune system, ginger is a real all-rounder. It is also said to help with nausea and stimulate circulation and blood flow with its spicy substances.
Dishes & Products
Fresh ginger has an energising effect and is bitingly spicy. Depending on how it is used in the kitchen, it also changes its aroma. It can be used freshly grated for cold dishes or only added at the end of the cooking process, which preserves its freshness and spiciness completely. If the rhizome is to be cooked for longer, it is advisable to slice it and remove it after cooking. Cooking ginger for longer gives the dish a pleasant spiciness. Fried ginger, as is common in India and China, also has its own aroma. Frying reduces the spiciness somewhat and a rather mild ginger aroma remains.
In Southeast Asia, the ginger root is more commonly used for spice pastes, such as Indonesian bumbu or Thai curry pastes. In Japan, on the other hand, it is mostly used pickled. “Gari” is the name given to young, sliced and pickled ginger, which is mainly served with sushi. “Beni shoga”, on the other hand, is cut into sticks and pickled, is usually bright red in colour and is served with a variety of dishes.
Dried ginger also differs in flavour from the fresh variety. It is found in a variety of spice blends such as curry powders, Chinese five-spice powder, Berbere or Quatre Épices. Ginger beer and ginger ale are popular ginger-based soft drinks. Both are non-alcoholic, although ginger was certainly used to flavour beer in the late Middle Ages. So it is hardly surprising that, due to the hype around craft beer, ginger beers are reclaiming the market these days. But not only ginger ale and ginger beer are popular drinks. Ginger shots and ginger tea, which can be prepared in combination with black tea or from ginger alone, are also popular representatives.