Archive for edible ginger

Ginger ‘n’ Spice and Everything Nice

Posted in Edible Rhizomes with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by PickMeYard

Greater Galangal

I love Thai cuisine and I love to cook it. Greater galangal is a basic ingredient in Thai food and is sometimes referred to as “Thai ginger”. I always see the gnarly galangal rhizomes in the freezer in Thai markets.  I’m so thrilled that I am able to grow it in my own yard.  The plant in the picture above is about two years old and is about six feet high.  I expected the worst for this tropical ginger with the freezing temperatures we experienced this winter in zone 9b.  I didn’t expect this beautiful plant to survive, but I haven’t even had to cut it back .  It has some browning around the edges of the leaves and that’s it.   It did have some protection from frost with the overhang of the house, but it’s planted in a spot that gets really cold.   I am in love with this plant.

Greater galangal (Alpinia galanga)  is in the ginger family and is an edible ginger.  Galangal has been popular since the middle ages.  It is especially wonderful for indigestion.  It is also used to alleviate nausea, colds, flu, fever, bad breath, diarrhea, and poor blood circulation.  I have also heard that it removes toxins from the body.  In Southeast Asia, a tonic is made from a mixture of galangal and lime juice.  Russia uses it to make liqueurs and India uses it to perfume deodorant.  I like to slice mine into big chunks and make “galangal limeade”.  A little goes a long way.  I harvest mine the same way I harvest my other edible gingers.  I dig my knife into the soil and cut off chunks so as not to harm the growth of the plant. 

As far as flavor goes, it has its own unique flavor.  It is spicy like ginger, but it is sweeter and more aromatic in my opinion.  The rhizome is very firm and white on the inside.  I have been harvesting mine while they are still young and I like them that way.  I have heard that some people harvest the rhizomes when they are mature at about 4-5 years of age.  The plants can be started from a fresh rhizome the same way as the other edible gingers and thrives in the shade.  I’ve seen the fresh rhizomes in a few Asian markets.  Greater galangal is a lovely plant and produces sweet, orchid-like flowers. 

Greater galangal's orchid-like flowers

I have another type of galangal growing in my yard as well. It’s called lesser galangal (Alpinia officinarum).  I will write a separate post on that one and include pictures of the harvested rhizomes from both of my galangal plants.  The harvested rhizomes from all the edible gingers freeze well.  The whole rhizome can be kept in the freezer for up to a year in a ziplock bag.  There is no need to slice it up or peel it before you freeze it.  When we need fresh ginger, we just grate off what we need with a grater, peeling and all, then return the rest to the freezer.

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Ginger, My Love

Posted in Edible Rhizomes with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2010 by PickMeYard

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

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