Ginger is a knobby, multiple branched rhizome found in many different shapes and sizes. The skin ranges in color from light to dark tan, depending on the variety, and is semi-rough with occasional callouses and rings ridged along the surface. The thickness of the skin is directly related to whether the rhizome was picked early or mature. Underneath the skin, the flesh is firm, fibrous, and ranges in color from yellow to brown. The rhizome is also highly fragrant with a warm, woody scent. When fresh, Ginger is juicy and crunchy with a pungent, spicy, and slightly sweet taste.
Gingerol is the primary compound that gives fresh Ginger its zesty pungency and is related to capsaicin, the component that provides chiles with their spiciness. The rhizome is also well-known for its use in treating nausea and indigestion and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger contains terpenes and an oleo-resin called Ginger oil, which along with other properties in the plant, act as an antiseptic, lymph-cleanser, circulation-stimulator, and induce perspiration to cleanse the body of toxins. It also contains vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and some iron.
Ginger can be utilized in both raw and cooked applications and is most often used as a spice or herb in fresh, dried, ground, pickled, or powdered form. When raw, the rhizome can be minced and added to smoothies, shredded and mixed into salads, noodle dishes, or tofu dishes, and blended into dressings and marinades. Ginger can also be used in cooked applications, tossed into soups, curries, roasts, and stews, baked into cookies, bread, and muffins, or used to flavor meats, gravies, and vegetable dishes. In addition to culinary dishes, Ginger is often used as a flavoring for beer, tea, candies, and lozenges, or it can be pickled and paired with fresh seafood or kimchi. Ginger pairs well with meats such as poultry, beef, pork, and fish, other seafood, carrots, Brussel sprouts, spinach, lentils, chickpeas, cranberries, and chocolate. The rhizome will keep for one month when stored in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. The rhizome can also be grated and frozen.