There are certain foods that one discovers later in life. For me, ginger is one of them. Growing up with a heavily Austrian/Italian cuisine, I found out about ginger’s zingy flavor, medicinal properties and anti-inflammatory capabilities when I was exposed to it through Asian foods. Back in Italy, we didn’t really use it. In fact, we didn’t even have ginger-snaps, as our equivalent holiday cookies – Lebkuchen – doesn’t feature that spice at all. The multitude of favorable healthy benefits of this spice is only matched by it’s many uses. Ginger’s tangy flavor, spiciness, freshness and mellow sweetness complements many a dish, both sweet and savory: think stir-fries and ice creams. My son loves ginger and would eat it every day: cooked, steamed, and, if he could have it his way, candied. This week, come and pickle some fresh ginger with us!
We love ginger and have written about it before. What we know as ginger is a rhizome, which means it is the underground stem of a plant. It has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, circulatory and digestive benefits. Research has shown that ginger appears to ease the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and it also suppresses pro-inflammatory compounds: all good things when we try to eat for healthy bones and joints. In addition to ginger’s potential impact on arthritis, it’s anti-inflammatory properties are also worth considering for sore throats and congestion.
Freshly grated ginger can be used in stir-fries, salads, chicken soup (my sister’s secret ingredient) as well as cooked vegetables and rice. Use fresh ginger, adding half at the beginning of cooking and the rest at the end to get both culinary and medicinal benefits. The easiest way to enjoy it quickly is to make brew ginger tea. Simply grate fresh ginger and use one half teaspoon of the grated root to an 8-ounce cup of hot eater. Cover and let it steep for about 10 minutes before straining it. A little honey makes this drink irresistible in my opinion. For another great use of ginger, our weekly featured recipe is freshly-pickled ginger. It’s simple and delicious, and super easy to make. And with its red color it looks just like the pickled ginger at the sushi counter, but tastes so much fresher and more intensely. And after a few taste tests we can confirm that it cleared out our sinuses!
While our freshly pickled ginger goes like freshly baked bread in my house, I have been able to convince my son that I’m still working on perfecting my candied ginger recipe! Stay tuned. For now he is happy with the pickled version. Come and cook with us!