Description - Ginger is a reed-like herb that is grown for its pungent, spicy underground stems or rhizomes. The edible portion is the rhizome which is rough and knotty in appearance.
Culture - Ginger is propagated by planting pieces of the underground stem or rhizome in the early spring. Ginger thrives best in the tropics and in the warmer regions of the temperate zone. The plants thrive in a loose, loamy soil that is high in organic matter. After planting, water sparingly until the plants are well developed. In late summer the plants will show signs of maturing such as yellowing of the foliage and slowness in growth. Harvest by digging up the entire root.
Availability - Fresh ginger can usually be found the year round in most of the larger supermarkets and grocery stores, although most common during late summer and through the winter months. Most of the fresh ginger is from Hawaii although it is grown to a limited degree in Florida. It can be successfully grown in gardens in East Texas, especially along the coast.
Selection - Ginger roots should be free of bruises and a light brown to cream in color. Ginger roots can be harvested at any stage of maturity therefore size of the root is not important.
Storage - Fresh ginger should be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will keep several weeks. It can also be frozen for long term storage.
Nutrition Information - Ginger root is low in calories, 3 ounces contain 49 calories and is sodium free.
Preparation - Fresh ginger roots can be shredded, finely minced, sliced or grated. The most tender portion of the root is directly beneath the skin. The center has a much more powerful flavor and is more fibrous. The fibers run vertically down the root, so when shredding fresh ginger it should be sliced in the same direction as the fibers. It is not necessary to peel the root unless personal preference or a specific recipe require peeling. To substitute fresh ginger for the ground spice, use about 1 tablespoon grated fresh root for 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger.
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