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All About Ginger

The distinctive flavor of ginger goes well with many dishes. Here's a basic guide to the different types and how to use them.

When a recipe calls for ginger, it may not be as simple as running to the pantry for a teaspoon of the ground variety. Each preparation is unique and one should never be used as a substitute for another.

Gingerroot or fresh ginger

Not actually a root, but is a rhizome; it's actually a stem that is harvested from under ground. Most produce sections carry gingerroot. A 5-inch section will go a long way. Make sure the ginger is firm and heavy. Wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or double wrap and keep in the freezer until needed (several months). You do not need to peel ginger, but that's merely a preference by most Chinese cooks. We simple remove from the freezer and grate as much as we need and re-wrap it.

Crystallized or candied ginger

Dessert recipes most commonly call for crystallized ginger, but it may show up on marinades and cooking sauces as well.

Crystallized ginger comes either cubed or sliced; it's cooked in a sugar syrup, then coated in granulated sugar. It's pricy and can be found at specialty markets.

Ground Ginger

It's best to purchase ground ginger in as small a quantity as possible to enjoy the true flavor. It is the dried, finely ground version of gingerroot. If it goes past six months, most of the flavor is lost. Keep it tightly covered and store it away in a cool, dark place.

Pickled Ginger

You'll find this version in sushi bars. It's sliced paper thin and then pickled in rice wine vinegar. It is commonly used as a garnish, also. Asian markets and health food stores will typically carry pickled ginger.

Ginger Hints:

-If it is labeled Thai ginger, it may be somewhat hotter than other types.
-Chop crystallized ginger and add it to ice cream.


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