For such a small, unassuming little vegetable, ginger packs a hell of a punch. Famed for its pungent, spicy aroma and warm peppery taste, it’s widely used as a spice and commonly found in Asian, Chinese, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine. Although it resembles and is called a root, ginger is actually a rhizome, or underground stem, of a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia (it’s related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal). A herbaceous perennial, it’s growing season is around eight to ten months; planted in early summer, ginger is usually harvested in late winter, when the leaves of the plant start dying.
And ginger is not just an essential ingredient in many culture’s food and beverages – it has also played a vital role on many traditional medicines. Historically, it can be traced back 5000 years, used by the Ayurvedic Indians and Chinese as a medicinal tonic; by 500 BC, Confucius was writing of its importance in aiding digestion.
This is one of ginger’s key properties – as well as being delicious, it has healing powers. Great for helping with upset stomachs and motion sickness, ginger tea is also recommended for people suffering from nausea and digestive issues. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound found in ginger, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Plus, if you’ve not been feeling hungry, ginger can really boost a sluggish digestive system and activate your appetite.
While not overly rich in mineral or vitamins – it does, however, have a lot of vitamin B6 – it contains many unique compounds thought to be the primary source of its health benefits, including gingerol, shogaols, zingiberene, and zingerone. Per 100 gram serving, ginger contains very little fat, no cholesterol, and only 80 calories. It has just under 2 grams of protein though, and 2 grams of dietary fibre – the reason why it’s such a great digestive aid.
In terms of cooking, few spices are as versatile of flavoursome as ginger. It goes well with sweet foods such as honey, and can be used to make desserts and cakes. An essential ingredient in Thai and Indian curries, it’s also widely used in spicy foods – in the Caribbean, you’ll find it in jerk chicken and pepperpot stew, while in West Africa, it’s use in chicken stews and various drinks and juices. And of course, ginger pickled in sweet vinegar (gari, or beni shoga) is served with sushi as a palette cleanser.
Ginger is most commonly bought raw, as a whole root, but it also comes dried, in powdered form, pickled, preserved, or crystallised. You can even get ginger oil. Our raw ginger root is USDA certified organic, and we carry a number of great ginger-flavoured products too, from kombucha to chocolate. Shop for some right now, and give your taste buds a treat.