The Lesser Galangal

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. 

That is lesser galangal on the left and greater galangal on the right.

Lesser Galangal.

Greater Galangal.

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. 

Peeled and sliced greater galangal.

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. 

This is my mature greater galangal. It is approximately 13 feet high and in full bloom.

This is my lesser galangal plant. It is approximately 2 feet high.

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! 

3 Responses to “The Lesser Galangal”

  1. I wonder what zone are you live? I’m in zone 7…I plant greater galangga last year but they died over winter. Can you tell me where to buy lesser galangga plant? Thanks a lot!

    • I’m in zone 9b. Galangal can tolerate some cold temps, but zone 7 is probably too cold. I’m sure you could try growing it in a pot and move it inside for the winter. might sell lesser galangal. They sell many rare and unusual tropicals that are hard to find.

  2. would it be possible to buy some greater galangal from you?.. I’d love to support what you’re doing,.. and it’s hard to find!.. Maybe I could trade you something?.. We’re 2 years in to an urban permaculture homestead … I have some Moringa seeds! Amazing plant! 🙂 .. also make organic raw vegan chocolate for a living 🙂

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