Indeed, ginger is considered a vegetable because it is the root of the ginger plant. Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric and cardamom, and it is one of the healthiest spices around. It is used in sweet and savory dishes and drinks and is an important part of recipes across a wide range of cuisines. It’s hard to make a curry or a good stir-fry without it.
The season of fresh ginger is now as it starts to appear in the farmers’ markets and some grocery stores. Fresh ginger root is very inexpensive and keeps for a while in the refrigerator or freezer. Young ginger has pale, thin skin that requires no peeling, is very tender, and has a milder flavor.
Hawaiian variety of ginger is known as Blue Ring ginger (also called Chinese white ginger). This variety is considered superior for its juiciness and bright flavor. It also produces larger rhizomes which are generally cleaner.
There is even Kansas Wild Ginger variety used by Native Americans for its medicinal properties.
Ground ginger (also referred to as powdered ginger) is dried and ground ginger root. It is readily available in supermarkets and is used primarily in sweets and curry mixes. (AND gingerbread cookie season is coming soon!)
Pickled ginger, praised in Japan, is pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually colored bright red or pink. It is a familiar accompaniment to sushi and is also eaten to freshen the breath. Available at Asian markets, it should be kept refrigerated in its container.
Mature ginger root has a tough skin that must be peeled away to get to the fibrous flesh and is usually grated, chopped or ground for use. You can even store it in the freezer to make it last longer.
Ginger Simple Syrup
The recipe is extremely simple. You can adjust the sugar and water ratio. Make it richer with 2 parts sugar and 1 part water, or back off on the sweetness with a straight 1:1 mix. The proportions in this recipe add a bit more sweetness against the spice. The ginger in this recipe can be grated, chopped, or julienned.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup ginger root
Bring ginger, sugar, and water to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then gently simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve and reserve ginger for another use (reserved ginger can be used to make candied ginger or ginger tea or ginger/carrot soup), then cool to room temperature.
To make straining easier, slices or chunks of ginger are better. Grated fresh ginger will work, but you will need to finely strain it to remove all of the pieces.
In a small sauce pan bring sugar and water to simmer. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
Ginger syrup is excellent with several types of sugar, especially raw and brown sugars.
Muscovado is my favorite type of sugar because it has a strong molasses content and flavor. (Molasses is high in minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and iron). Muscovado is made out of cane sugar and has a rich brown color, moist texture, and toffee-like taste.
Add the ginger and continue to heat, bringing the syrup to a light boil. Cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Let sit for several hours or until desired taste and strength attained.
Strain out the ginger and bottle under a tight seal.
Ginger syrup could be added to beverages, or just mixed with plain club soda. It could also be added to other dishes. This is my favorite fall compote.
Baked pears with ginger syrup:
When cooking pears, there are two types of desired outcomes: Pears that keep their shape or fall apart. Also, pear flesh tends to oxidize or turn brown when cut and exposed to the air. You can minimize any browning by drizzling the sliced pears with lemon juice. Look to the crispest raw pears to withstand heat. The Bosc or Anjou pears are the best options.
3-5 pears (halved and cored)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Place the pears, cored side up, in a single layer in a small baking dish. Drizzle with ginger syrup and cinnamon. Bake the pears until they become tender. Remove the pears from the oven, and then drizzle them with more ginger syrup. Serve immediately while the pears are still warm.
Information contained here is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or provide a medical advice.
Community Services Librarian
Kansas City, Kansas Public Library
625 Minnesota Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66101
913-295-8250 ext 1103