Ginger, My Love

Ginger

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. 

large edible ginger planted in the ground

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.

edible ginger rhizome before leaves are cut away

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. 

newly planted ginger in pot

edible ginger with about 5 months growth

Come grow with us!
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6 Responses to “Ginger, My Love”

  1. Hi Guys.
    Looks as though you are doing a similar thing to us – except we’re building a house along with the edible garden and are a long way behind where you are at …. oh, and we’re just near Kuranda, Queensland, Australia (the far north – near Cairns). It’s pretty much the SW Florida equivalent in the southern hemisphere … except we driver on the LHS of the road.

    Anyway, apart from wanting to compliment you on the website, the garden and the family (all top quality – love it), i was wondering which variety of carrots you are growing. In our endeavour to grow our own staple foods, we have struggled with a carrot variety that is suited to the tropical weather conditions. Any tips on this would be much appreciated.

    Thanks and congratulations on such an awesome achievement.

    owen

    • I’ve visited Australia and didn’t want to leave. (You probably hear that a lot.) I drove on the left for 9 years in the Cayman Islands and always felt that it was more natural than the right side. Anyway… carrots. We start growing our carrots in the fall here and grow them until the summer heat takes over. I try to space my plantings a few weeks apart so that I’m not harvesting a ton of carrots all at the same time. This year we grew some purple and white carrots mainly for the cool factor. Our favorite is still the “Nelson”. It’s a classic orange carrot and they’re very sweet. They tolerate the heat much better than the other varieties. When the heat sets in around here in the summer, the carrots get so bitter that they’re not edible.

      I find that carrots taste great if I don’t wait too long to harvest them. Also, I cut the green tops off them immediately after harvest and feed the tops to the bunnies. This keeps the carrots from turning into limp noodles.

      Good luck with your house and garden. Ours has taken years to get where it is and it’ll never be “finished”. We’d be lost if it was anyway.

      Thank you for your wonderful compliments!

  2. I have heaps of ginger growing in my Melbourne garden (Australia) but not sure if they are edible. The roots are larger than those I purchase and flowers are a spray of soft yellow and scented, others are a bit brighter yellow with an orange tongue type extra. The roots look and smell like ginger – should I eat them?

    • I would recommend that you do not the ginger unless you are positive it is an edible variety. Even most ornamental gingers have delicious smelling roots, but should not be eaten. My recommendation is that you get some edible ginger root from the market and plant it in your garden. It won’t be long before you have ginger that you can be confident is edible, with no mysteries.

  3. I am living in Tokyo and just found some young fresh ginger at the local grocery store with the long greens attached. Are the greens safe to eat? (I don’t speak Japanese and don’t know an English speaking Japanese cook to ask.)

    • I bet Tokyo has some wonderful and interesting food items in their grocery stores. Very cool.

      The entire plant of a true ginger is edible. So, yes, the fresh ginger leaves you found at the grocery store are safe to eat. You could slice them up really thin and add them to a stir fry or maybe add them to a salad. I’m going to have to try some myself… sounds interesting.

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