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Ginger

Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Varieties

Considered to be one of the world's favorite spices, ginger comes in many varieties (for example, in India there are about 50 varieties of ginger). The more pungent varieties are grown in Africa, and milder varieties grown in China. Ranging in color from gold, tan, yellow, beige, white or reddish, ginger's rhizome (okay, call it a root) should be peeled before being used. Fresh ginger can be chopped or grated into powder. In Japan, pickled ginger is served with traditional fare (such as sashimi and sushi) to clear the palate between courses. When selecting fresh ginger, look for a smooth, firm wrinkle-free rhizome that is free of mold. Ginger's rhizome has thick lobes that sometimes look like gnarled and knotted fingers. Wrinkled or shriveled ginger is usually old. Ginger should be stored in a cool, dry area. Keep fresh ginger wrapped in paper towels in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. You can also freeze ginger.

Fresh Fresh ginger is available in two forms: green or spring ginger has a thin, pale skin that does not require peeling. Green/spring ginger is delicate in flavor and tender. Generally it is julienned, grated or chopped. Green or spring ginger is often pink-tipped and are best refrigerated, wrapped in paper towels for no more than three weeks. The second type of fresh ginger is mature ginger whose tough skin should be peeled. Mature ginger has fibrous flesh and is generally grated.

Dried Dried ginger is available in slices or in whole pieces. Soak before using.

Pickled Called gari or beni shoga in Japan, pickled ginger has been marinated in sweet vinegar and is bright red or pink. It is used in Japan to clear the palate between courses.

Preserved Preserved ginger is mixed with sugar and salt, and is often served with fruit or as a dessert.

Candied Also referred to as crystallized ginger, this type of ginger has been cooked in a sweet syrup until soft and then it is coated with granulated sugar and served as a dessert or in desserts.

Powdered Powdered or ground ginger is used for confectionery items, desserts, savory dishes or added to curry mixes. It is dried, ground and has a different flavor and aroma (it's hot and slightly sharper) than the fresh forms of ginger. Purchase small amounts of loose ground ginger and as the volatile essential oil responsible for the flavor is easily lost in the air, make sure to keep it be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It is not advisable to use ground ginger in recipes that call for fresh ginger, which has a fresher, livelier flavor.

Availability

With the exception of young ginger, all other types of ginger are available year round.

Shopping

Fresh Shop for fresh ginger in supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. Look for ginger that is firm, not withered or wrinkled. As you can get many different sizes of fresh ginger, purchase what you think you'll use within a couple of weeks.

Dried Purchase dried ginger in pieces that are whole, not broken into small bits. Pickled Purchase pickled ginger in jars, or if you have a Japanese store near you, in containers. the ginger should be immersed in liquid. While a lot of ginger is bright red or pink, that is not an indication of quality, but rather of the liquid that it was pickled in. There is pickled ginger available that is not colored at all.

Preserved Preserved ginger can often be found in Asian markets. It is often sold in ceramic ginger jars, not clear glass jars. Preserved ginger will keep for a long time.

Candied Purchase candied ginger in well sealed packages (which will keep the ginger moist) and store in airtight containers in a cool dry place.

Powdered Purchase small amounts of powdered ginger at a time as it loses it potency over time.

Storage

Fresh Store fresh ginger in the refrigerator and keep it wrapped in paper towels. It will keep for 2 to 3 weeks. It may also be frozen.

Dried Keep in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

Pickled Store in the refrigerator immersed in its pickling liquid. It will keep for several months.

Preserved Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

Candied Store in airtight containers, in a cool, dry place. It will keep for several months.

Powdered or ground Store in airtight containers, in a cool, dry place. It will keep several months, but will begin to lose some of its pungency.

Preparation

Fresh Young or spring ginger may be chopped, julienned, sliced, or grated. You may leave the skin on if you like. Use it as you would regular ginger, in soups, stews, stir-fries and drinks. It will not be quite as strong as regular ginger, nor will it be as fibrous. Regular ginger is somewhat more potent than young ginger and can be grated, or sliced. It can be chopped, but tends to be fibrous.

Dried Dried ginger may be ground or rehydrated. Use in soups and stews.

Pickled Pickled ginger is usually eaten alongside sushi or sashmi or to cleanse the palate in between courses. It can also be served as a condiment to spice up grilled meat or poultry.

Preserved Preserved ginger can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It is particularly nice to use when making homemade ginger ice cream or folding into store-bought ice cream. Candied Candied ginger is great to take along on a trip or to keep in the car to alleviate the nausea from motion sickness. It is also good to snack on or chop and use in cookies or cakes.

Powdered or ground Use in sweet and savory dishes. Ground ginger is used in baking and cooking.

Nutrition Chart

Fresh ginger/1/2 ounce

10
Total fat (g)
0.1
Saturated fat (g)
0
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0
Dietary fiber (g)
0.3
0
Carbohydrate (g)
2
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
2


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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