Ginger: Unique Uses, Health Benefits and Fresh Ginger Recipes

Friday, July 5, 2013 by Jenessa McAllister

What comes to mind when you think of ginger? Childhood memories of an upset tummy and drinking ginger ale to soothe it? Christmas traditions like the friendly ginger bread men or ginger bread cookies? Or, perhaps like many people around the world, you enjoy the spice for its distinct taste and numerous health benefits.

Embarrassingly enough, I had never actually worked with fresh ginger, and it was quite the adventure! I read all about how to pick it out in the produce section, and the right way to work with it. This blog even had helpful tips about how to peel it with a spoon! I did my research, made a few recipes and hope you can take away something useful from this post. I’d love to hear from you about other ways you use it!


 

About Ginger (This Funny-Looking Food)

Ginger—or ginger root—is a rhizome (collection of roots) found around the world. It’s used traditionally in different countries—like ginger wine that’s produced in the United Kingdom, China’s common use of pairing sliced or whole ginger root with savory dishes like fish, and Jamaica’s regional specialty called Jamaican ginger cake.

There are so many delicious recipes and unique uses for ginger, and it comes in a few recognizable forms. Ground ginger is more commonly used in recipes like ginger cookies and cakes. Fresh ginger, which comes in surprisingly fun-shaped pieces, is used for things like candied ginger, ginger syrup and tea. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1.

A few of the most prominent nutrients in ginger include amino acids, calcium, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. Ground ginger also contains Vitamin A.

There are so many ways to take advantage of this spice, especially if you’re a fan of the flavor. But, if you’re like me, and the taste of fresh ginger isn’t really your favorite, ginger supplements are available so you don’t miss out on all of the advantages.

 

 

How Can I Use Ginger?!

We know that ginger is beneficial in many ways, but what about its popular and distinct taste? There are so many options for getting it into your body—many of which include sprinkling it on dishes or mixing it into recipes. With a little help from the Internet, below are a few of the neatest ways I found to use and/or eat ginger. (We also heard from our Facebook fans; scroll down to see what they had to say!)

Ginger Uses:

-Grate ginger root and combine it with carrots, apples and lemon juice in your juicer

-Sprinkle grated ginger on desserts

-Follow this simple recipe for candied ginger—a sweet treat! (Check out the photos below!)

-In baked goods—try these yummy pumpkin ginger cupcakes

-Follow this recipe for homemade ginger syrup for ginger ale (I also made this—check out photos below!)

-Pickled—serve it with or add it to sushi

-Make it into ginger tea

-Add a teaspoon of ground ginger to pancake batter

-Sprinkle ground ginger over vegetables before roasting

-Use in a more complex dish like this Warm Ginger Mahi Mahi Salad with Ginger Ponzu or this Spicy Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry with Chicken

 

My Turn—Ginger Recipes and Results

When I set out to find something to make with ginger, I decided to work with the fresh kind, and wanted to make something fun! The first recipe I tackled was ginger syrup. I found this awesome recipe which can be used for so many things. I decided to use it to make homemade ginger ale!

 

Ginger Syrup

  • 2 cups unpeeled, washed, fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water

Directions:

  • Process ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped; add to stock pot.
  • Add sugar and water to the pot and stir.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for one hour until a rich syrup is created.
  • Strain the syrup twice through cheese cloth or a fine sieve into a large jar or bottle. Refrigerate.

 

Homemade Ginger Ale

  • Fill a drinking glass with ice
  • Fill about 1/3 of the glass with your ginger syrup
  • Pour in club soda
  • Top with a slice of lime

Candied Ginger

I also decided to make candied ginger, because who doesn’t love something covered in sugar? I followed the recipe from this blog, but there are tons out there.

  • 1 large ginger root
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Extra sugar for dipping (I used roughly 1/2 cup)

Directions:

  • Peel the ginger and cut it into 2 inch long julienne strips.
  • Bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan.
  • Add the sliced ginger.
  • Let the ginger simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • Drain.
  • While hot, place the ginger on a baking tray and pour enough sugar on top to cover the ginger.
  • Mix well.
  • Let sit out for two days or until the ginger has hardened.
  • Remove from the sugar and place in an airtight container. (Or wrap them up as a gift like I did!)


What You Had to Say

You’ve heard from us; now we want to hear from you! I threw the topic out on Facebook, and below are a few of my favorite answers. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got a favorite way to use ginger, or the reason you love it.

I take ginger root supplements every day. Also shred ginger into my water every day with lemon and lime slices. Helps with arthritis. ~Kathleen M.

Great for a digestive aid & to calm nausea! ~Sarajane P.

It's great on carrots and sweet potatoes with cinnamon. ~Renee E.

I make wine with it. ~Jennifer S.

I use it in cooking, as a tea, and last night I made non-alcoholic ginger beer with it! ~Yola D.

My first experience many years ago was drinking several cups of ginger tea for 2-3 days and plenty of rest to rid inner ear problem. It worked like charm... Ginger is definitely an herb to keep on hand either fresh, grated, powdered or essential oil. Even ginger bits are great snacks ~Sunshine S.

As a type 1 diabetic, I will put it in tea, water or in my cheek to keep stimulating my blood to circulate. ~Eddie B.

I carry crystallized ginger nuggets in my purse, use the root to slice into my stir fry, also slice a hunk into a cup of hot water and let it set, add a little honey and drink. Lastly, I use the powder in my desserts. ~Vanessa B.

I steep sliced ginger, soak a face cloth in the tea, and apply to any sore muscles, joints, etc. It yields amazing results! ~Jacqueline F.

Salad dressing and marinade ~Nancy M.

Shred and add to carbonated water (in a mesh bag). ~Karen J.

Grated in my yogurt ~Alexis M.

I use it in Oriental dishes. ~Vicki S.

I juice it, make tea, and use ginger oil in my bath for my joints. ~Alissa V.

As an essential oil with black pepper, grapefruit, Epsom salt and baking soda in my bath for detox. ~Wendy D.

I use ginger every day when I do my juicing. It gives the juice a nice zing. I also grate it and add it to my Chinese chicken recipe. It also makes a great tea with lemon when a cold is coming on. ~Lynne H.

I put a few pieces of ginger in my red rooibos chai tea. Also, I make ginger lemonade water. I love it!!!  ~Sheilla J.



Sources

-Prescription for Nutritional Healing
-http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/10-healing-benefits-of-ginger
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger
-http://barefeetinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-to-use-fresh-ginger.html
-http://www.sweetpaulmag.com/food/diy-candied-ginger
-http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Ginger-Cupcakes/Detail.aspx
-http://www.imbibemagazine.com/Ginger-Syrup-Recipe
-http://www.self.com/fooddiet/recipes/2013/01/warm-ginger-mahimahi-salad
-http://barefeetinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2012/08/spicy-chinese-vegetable-stir-fry-with.html

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