Ginger, My Love
Do you often purchase fresh ginger at the grocery store and find it months later in a rotted mess in the bottom of your fridge? Edible ginger (Zingiber officinalis) is so easy to grow at home. If you grow it yourself, you will have a continuous supply. The taste of ginger that you just harvested is completely different from the taste of the supermarket ginger. There is nothing as special as fresh ginger. It is anybody’s guess as to how old the “fresh” ginger in the supermarket is when you buy it. However, the market ginger is very useful in getting your own ginger started in your garden.
My family just adores fresh ginger slices that have been marinating in a jar of water for a few days in the fridge. It doesn’t even need sugar. The flavor is usually light. If it turns into a full-bodied ginger flavor, just add a little sugar. It doesn’t have the bite that ginger beer does. I bet there are lots of other ingredients that could be added to make it a fun drink. We like to add kaffir lime leaves, spearmint or vanilla to ours. The vanilla sugar is outstanding in it. Ginger is really wonderful when added to rice while cooking. Just snap off a little chunk and throw it in the pot and then remove it when it’s done cooking. There’s no chopping involved. One of my all time favorite ways of using ginger is to add a few large slices to a pot of broccoli and carrots while they’re steaming. It makes the vegetables taste heavenly. My kids love it.
The next time you’re at the grocery store and you find a nice piece of ginger root, buy it. If its got a little green on it or whitish bumps around the edges, then you found a beauty. If it’s shriveled, leave it and wait until you find a fresher one. Bring it home and put it in a pot outside in a shady area. (They like deep shade best). My gingers are growing mostly in full sun and I have heard this affects the flavor. However, my ginger is so good that I haven’t deemed it necessary to move them. (Use potting soil inside the pot). Just lay the ginger rhizome on top of the soil in the pot and water it. Don’t worry about which side is up. It will need to be watered frequently so don’t put it in a spot where you will forget about it or have trouble getting water to it. It will grow really fast and makes a lovely plant. It looks like a small bamboo. You will have rhizomes to harvest in just a couple of months.
Whenever I need ginger I just walk outside with a knife and cut off a piece of fresh rhizome. I stick the knife in the soil and cut because this doesn’t hurt the growth of the plant. You don’t need a big pot to grow ginger, a five gallon pot is sufficient. Ginger likes it warm and needs the temperature to be at least 55 degrees. Since it was such a cold winter, I dug out all my rhizomes. I cleaned them off, diced them up small and put them in my dehydrator for 24 hours. We’re still eating from it and have plenty left. Last week we collected two more rhizomes at the grocery store and have put them outside in a pot. One had a sticker that told us it was from Costa Rica and the other said Nicaragua. We’re hoping to find some rhizome from Jamaica and Hawaii too. We’re going to see what the difference in flavor is between the different countries. The rhizomes do look quite different from each other. We’re curious if the plants will look different from each other too.