Lesser galangal (Alpinia officinarum) is in the ginger family. The rhizome is the part of the plant that is eaten, but it seems that it is mostly used for medicinal purposes. Grayson and I harvested a piece of lesser galangal and greater galangal from our yard so we could do a taste test with them.
We chopped off the stem and roots. Then we washed off the dirt and used a knife to lightly scrape off the outer peeling of the rhizome. We cut both of the galangals in half and did our taste test. Grayson’s (8-year-old) opinion is that the lesser galangal is appropriately named and I concur. It didn’t have a tantalizing smell like most ginger. It had a strong, medicinal smell and the taste was not appealing. However, the greater galangal (Alpinia galanga) smelled sumptuous when we cut it open. It smelled so good we had to taste it. It’s flavor is sharp, but sweet. Grayson says it’s spicier than regular ginger (Zingiber officinale). I agree.
We added this beautiful piece of greater galangal to a pitcher of water and now it’s Grayson’s new favorite drink. I promised him we would try our hand at making some “galangal beer”. We’re going to use a ginger beer recipe but we’ll substitute the ginger with galangal. My version of the recipe has more sugar and the galangal flavor won’t be overpowering. I like my ginger beer to tickle my throat, not burn it.
In conclusion, we like the way the lesser galangal plant looks in our garden but we probably won’t bother to dig out the rhizomes. The lesser galangal will always be our “lesser” choice. However, we absolutely adore the way the greater galangal looks in our yard. This is edible landscaping at its finest. We love the taste and we are planning many ways to enjoy our greater galangal at our family table.
Come grow with us!