Spices Unearthed: Ginger

what is ginger and how to make ginger tea

Reduces anxiety and stress, settles an upset stomach, soothes a sore throat, suppresses a cough, helps prevent morning sickness and motion sickness and sea sickness, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, warms the body and boosts circulation, treats inflammation, strengthens the gastrointestinal tract, suppresses certain cancer cells, relieves pain caused by arthritis and rheumatism, and according to Simon Cowell – who consumes it in tea form “all day long” – Ginger is what keeps him young and healthy despite his hectic schedule.

Love him or hate him, no one can argue with Simon on the powerful effects of ginger.

Young Ginger

Ginger, like turmeric, is a rhizome of a flowering plant.  The knobby underground stem has a brownish skin with white, yellow, or red flesh.  When harvested early, young ginger has a juicy, sweet, mild , citrusy flavor.  But when the rhizome matures, the flesh is fibrous and almost dry, with a sharp, spicy taste.

The ginger plant originated in India and spread throughout Asia, spicing up a variety of savory dishes.  In Chinese cuisine, where ginger is an integral part of the kitchen, ginger is used to add a kick to steamed fish, stir-fried chicken and beef, as well as vegetable dishes such as stir-fried broccoli.

In Western cuisine, this kick is added mainly to sweet, Christmas baked goods, like gingerbread, gingersnaps, and pumpkin pie.  Ginger is the perfect winter spice because it not only creates a burning sensation in the mouth, but also warms the entire body.  The reason why ginger is effective in fighting the many symptoms of the common cold.

Ginger is truly 2 for 1.  Spice & Medicine.

Knowledge that began in China – where ginger is used extensively to treat and cure many ailments – and spread west to the Greeks and to the Romans.  To England when King Henry VIII recommended ginger to fight off the plague.  To the English bartenders in the mid-18th century who began adding ginger to beer for a spicy drink, and a quick remedy for an upset stomach.  To present day when a cup of strong ginger tea has been found to be as effective as Dramamine in preventing motion sickness, without the side effect of drowsiness.

fresh mature ginger for sale in a penang morning market
What’s in ginger that makes it so special?  It is the active compound called Gingerol, which gives the spice both its bite and its healing powers.  Gingerol is actually related to both capsaicin and piperine – the active compounds in chili pepper and black pepper – which similarly provide the burn on the tongue and the medicinal properties.

Ready to feel healthier and younger?  Steep a slice of fresh ginger, add in a drop of honey and a squeeze of lemon, and enjoy a warming cup of ginger tea. Or, try one of these excellent recipes with the 2 for 1 qualities of ginger:

asian coleslaw recipe
general tso chicken recipe
General Tso's Chicken - Rasa Malaysia
minty ginger granny smith apple juice recipe
ginger fennel granita recipe
                   Ginger & Fennel Granita - Love Food Eat
ginger pork shogayaki recipe
Ginger Pork Shogayaki - Just One Cookbook
stir fried broccoli & mushroom recipe
Stir-Fried Broccoli & Mushroom - Season with Spice