Fresh ginger is a common kitchen staple. This versatile root can be used in virtually any meal from sweet to savory. It can be sliced or grated into soup and fried rice to give a little extra heat or mixed into a basic vinaigrette to add a bit of tanginess.
Not only is it widely used as a spice, it is often used for medicinal reasons. When I think of soothing an upset stomach, my first course of action is to grab the ginger.
Whether fresh, crystallized, added to gingerbread or brewed into a tea, people throughout the world have used this root for centuries to cure ailments. It has been proven to be a natural remedy for treating nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite due to illness, morning sickness, surgery, and motion sickness.
Ginger is the rhizome or root of a leafy plant. At the market, look for a firm root. There will be a dry patch where the root was cut, but that is normal, just be sure it is not shriveled.
Store ginger on your kitchen counter for a few days or wrapped in the fridge for a longer period of time. If need be, it can also be frozen, but be sure to carefully protect with freezer wrap. For your convenience, you may want to peel and cut the root before freezing.
Fresh ginger root is usually peeled, then sliced or grated. The taste is sweet, citrusy, and spicy. The lemony taste makes it a perfect complement to fish. The spiciness can vary greatly from root to root, as well as from season to season.
It is best to give a freshly cut piece a gentle smell or a little taste before adding it to recipes. If it seems particularly strong, feel free to use a little less than is called for.
Foodal recommends Simply Organic’s Ground Ginger Root Powder (Certified Organic)
The powdered or ground spice is similar in taste to the fresh variety, but lacks the citrusy undertones. This form works well in desserts and with squashes, such as butternut and acorn. Just a dash can kick a basic stew up a notch. It’s also great for use in homemade spice blends, like our Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout.
Looking for a way to keep those dried spices organized? Head over here to read Foodal’s review of the best spice racks.
Foodal recommends Anna and Sarah’s Dried Crystallized Ginger
Crystallized ginger can be enjoyed as a snack or added to your favorite recipes. It is particularly delicious sprinkled as a garnish on top of a bowl of pumpkin soup, baked into a similarly fall-themed apple pear pie with cardamon and ginger, or added to your favorite fall dishes with other similar warming spices of its genre.
This yummy treat is available for purchase or you can whip up a homemade batch pretty easily.
Pickled ginger, also known as gari, is often enjoyed with sushi or sashimi. Marinated in a solution of sugar and vinegar, the thinly sliced root is a sweet and tangy addition to your favorite Asian cuisine.
Used alone, or paired with other spices, this root has the unique ability to bring out many different effects in the kitchen such as brightening stews, sweetening cakes, and spicing up dressings. Make it a key addition to your pantry.
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.