Spotlight Spice: Ginger
This week we’re shining the spotlight on ginger…and there’s lots to discuss!
So, what is it?
We often refer to ginger as ginger root, but it’s actually a rhizome (like iris or canna flowers). The plant is a perennial which grows leaves annually. It even flowers! Ginger is native to India and China and was one of the earliest spices to be exported from Asia.
Ginger has been around a really, really, long time – it’s even mentioned in the Koran, dating its use in the Arab world back to at least A.D. 650. As exporting introduced ginger to other parts of the world, it became quite popular. In the Middle Ages it was used to fight the plague, and, in nineteenth century England, barkeepers put small containers of ground ginger on the bar for patrons to sprinkle in their ale (and ginger ale was born).
Ginger is a staple in Asian cuisine and has a long history in European baking – like gingerbread and gingersnaps.
Okay, what’s it taste like?
Ginger has a bouquet which is warm, sweet, and pungent. Its taste is a bit peppery with just a hint of sweetness. It’s often described as “fiery and sharp,” making it perfect for soups, teas, and spiced baked goods. The bite of fresh ginger mellows a bit with cooking.
Great, how do I use it?
We carry ginger in several forms.
Our Ginger Powder is a buff-colored, finely-ground spice perfect for use in baking. Try it in gingerbread, gingersnaps, molasses cookies, coffee and spiced cakes, fruit breads, muffins and more. It’s also a great option for making your own Indian-inspired spice blends and for inclusion in Asian dishes where you want to add a bit of zippy flavor without the texture of fresh or dried, crushed ginger.
Crushed Ginger is our favorite shortcut for cooking – especially stir fries and other Asian dishes – when we don’t want to deal with peeling and grating fresh ginger. You can reconstitute our dried, crushed ginger by placing it in a small dish, then adding just enough boiling water to cover it. The crushed ginger will absorb the water and then be ready for use. This is also a great option for infusing a simple syrup for cocktail making.
Lastly, we have Crystallized Ginger – both in diced and sliced form. Crystallized ginger is made by slowly cooking ginger in sugar syrup, then rolling in coarse sugar which preserves its sweet, spicy taste. The diced form is perfect for baked goods like ginger snaps and spice cakes. Dice some up to add to jams and jellies for a bit of warmth. The sliced form can be chopped up for similar use and is also a great snack. We like to keep a bag tucked behind the counter to satisfy our sweet tooths.
Find our favorite, gingery recipes in the AllSpice recipe library or share your own recipes with us via the AllSpice website.