Week of December 16

Ginger

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Ginger is a root with a peculiar taste which goes well both with sweet or savory. Even the people who may not like ginger in one form often may like it when its flavor is milder combined with spices, garlic or onion. Ginger use is popular in cuisines of many Asian countries. It is an important component of various Indian curries. Garlic and ginger is a common and very flavorful combination in many dishes. Ginger is also used in dried form and dried powdered form. Ginger powder is available in most grocery stores in the spice section. However when a recipe calls for fresh ginger, substituting it with dry ginger powder will not impart the same flavor and is not recommended.
Ginger also has medicinal qualities and has been used for various ailments in many cultures. It is used for alleviating cough and other respiratory symptoms in common cold. It is often used as a tea with other herbs and spices for this purpose. Ginger is also used in some culture for alleviating arthritis pain and for digestive problems.
It is the root of the Ginger that is used for culinary or medicinal purposes. However the ginger plant itself is quite ornamental and can be beautiful in a container. It is a tropical plant therefore it will not tolerate the freezing nights and it may not perform very well in the dry, windy El Paso summer. However, if there is an area in the garden where the moisture level is higher and there is some protection from the afternoon sun in July & August ginger can be grown here. It is best to try it in a container when trying it for the first time as it will be easier to move the container to a more suitable location during harsh weather.
Organic ginger available in grocery stores can be used to start the plant. It may take 6-10 weeks for the plant to start after the ginger root is buried in the soil/potting mix. Late April-May would be a good time to start ginger.

Some ideas for using ginger:

1. Tea for respiratory symptoms : Cut about quarter inch thick piece, mash it with a heavy pestle or finely grate it. Boil it with 2 cups of water, 2 cloves, 4-5 black peppercorns and a small piece of cinnamon stick. Boil for about 5 minutes and for a stronger tea boil more. Strain and serve.

2. Ginger milk: see the recipe for this warm and deliciously comforting drink in the recipe section of this website

3. Finely grated or mashed ginger is sautéed with garlic for a few seconds before adding mixed vegetables and other spices for a delicious stir fry

4. Sauté onion, add finely grated ginger and garlic and sauté for few more seconds; add various indian spices or premixed curry powder; add diced tomato and tomato paste; add small amount of water and cook to make an Indian curry which then could be cooked with vegetables, lentil or beans.

5. Sauté finely grated ginger in sesame oil, add mushrooms, pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of water and cook for 5-10 minutes, covered. Add cooked rice, mix well with the mushroom and ginger.