Ginger

Presents facts about ginger. Background on the use of ginger as an aphrodisiac; Culinary uses of ginger; Recipe for Homemade Ginger Ale.

The article discusses the therapeutic benefits of ginger. It reveals that ginger was more effective than Dramamine, a popular motion sickness medicine, in a similar study published in 1982. Bob L...

FLAVORS

The spice that's naughty and nice snap

FRESH GINGER SHOULD BE FIRM ENOUGH TO SNAP WHEN YOU BREAK OFF A PIECE

Love the rich flavor of holiday gingerbread or the crisp tang of ginger ale? Your fondness for these foods may be more than just a flavor preference: Long before ginger added zing to baked goods or fizz to soft drinks, it was used as an aphrodisiac. In ancient China (where ginger was first cultivated), the spice was prescribed to lift libido and boost virility. Ginger's romantic reputation spread to Greece and Rome, where physicians prescribed it to "awake young love again," according to ninth century Italian medical texts. Muslims, too, drank ginger water to enhance sexual ginger tea to guarantee fertility.

But today, ginger is prized first and foremost for its unique flavor. "Ginger's clean, bright taste brings out the best in whatever you pair it with," says Bruce Cost, author of Ginger East to West: The Classic Collection of Recipes, Techniques & Lore.

Gingerroot is sold in whole "hands," named for the shape of the root's main branch. Individual lengths are called fingers; Asian cooks slice these into coin-shaped pieces or grate them into a pulp to season soups, stir-fries, salads and stews Pickled sliced ginger, or gari, is a Japanese specially served with sushi to awaken its delicate flavors and cleanse the diner's palate.

The tradition of baking with ginger comes from Europe. "It was the Germans who sweetened ginger's usage, giving Westerners the ginger taste they're familiar with," explains Chef Darrell Folck, instructor at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. "As far back as the 15th century, Germans were making lebkuchen, a honey-sweetened gingerbread cake." And England's Queen Elizabeth l is credited with the invention of gingerbread men, after she asked that gingerbread cookies be baked into the shapes of her royal courtiers.

Today, most of the fresh ginger on the market is grown in China and Hawaii, says Abbie Leeson, general manager of The Ginger People company in Monterey, CA, though it's also cultivated in Central and South America, Africa and the South Pacific. "The longer it stays in the ground, the more pungent it gets," Leeson explains. Young or "baby" ginger is harvested after five months; it's used to flavor delicate Asian soups and to make candied ginger, which has a gumdrop consistency with a mild bite.

Nine-month-old ginger is the root sold in supermarkets and commonly used in cooking. Any ginger older than nine months is too fibrous to cook with, so it's dehydrated and ground into the pungent powder we use to flavor baked goods.

Because ginger comes in so many different forms, there's no end to the ways you can use it to liven up everyday dishes. Two tablespoons of sliced fresh ginger steeped in hot water makes a delicious herbal tea. One tablespoon of fresh minced ginger Brightens salad dressings and vegetable soups. Try tossing chopped pickled ginger instead of sweet pickles into your favorite potato or pasta salad recipe. One-fourth to one-half cup of chopped candied ginger adds bite to scones, cookies and crumble toppings. Stir a teaspoon or two of ground ginger into muffin and carrot cake batters to brighten all the other spices without overpowering them. And if you really love the gingery flavor of holiday treats, don't be afraid to double the amount of ground spice a recipe calls for. Or you can enhance the flavor by adding one teaspoon of minced fresh ginger to the recipe. Go ahead! Ginger's not just a flavor. It's a passion.
recipe HOMEMADE GINGER ALE

Makes 16 servings • Vegan

You haven't tasted ginger ale until you've had a glass of this brew … you'll never go back to the canned stuff again! The fresh ginger adds zip without being too spicy. And besides being totally irresistible, it's super-simple to make.

2 cups light brown sugar
½ lb. fresh ginger, cut into ¼-inch thick "coins"
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of cayenne pepper
sparkling water

1. Bring sugar, ginger, cinnamon stick and 2 cups water to a boil in large saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes, then remove from heat, and stir in cayenne pepper. Let cool.
2. Strain liquid into small pitcher, and discard ginger and cinnamon. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. To serve: Ladle ¼ cup ginger syrup into tumbler filled with ice. Top with ¾ cup sparkling water, and stir.

PER SERVING: 103 CAL; 0G PROT; 0G TOTAL FAT (OG SAT. FAT); 27G CARB; OMG CHOL; 12MG SOD; 0G FIBER; 25G SUGARS

PHOTO (COLOR)

~~~~~~~~

By Julia McGill

Recipes by Mary Margaret Chappell; Photography by Renée Comet

Every Christmas, Virginia-based writer Julia McGill builds a gingerbread house with her two sons.

Share this with your friends
AttachmentSize
Ginger.pdf799.25 KB
3. Ginger.pdf941.4 KB