The March spice of the month
Ginger has been traded throughout history longer than most other spices and is one of the globe’s best loved aromatics!
It is enjoyed in both savoury and sweet dishes and celebrated all over the world!
So, what is Ginger?
Ginger – or Zingiber officinale – is a leafy, flowering, perennial tropical plant, which grows to be approximately 3 feet tall, producing a mix of brightly coloured bracts & 3-petalled flowers.
The ginger plant generally takes around 8 – 10 months to grow and once fully developed, is harvested by being pulled from the ground, where the leaves are removed and the aromatic rhizomes, or roots, are cleaned and consumed or sold as Ginger.
Ginger is also known to be part of the Zingiberaceae family (Ginger family) making it very similar in look and taste to turmeric, not to be confused!
The origins of Ginger
Ginger was discovered in Southeast Asia and although used in the West as medicine for 2,000 years, it can be traced back as long as 4,000 years ago when it was used in China. The great philosopher, Confucius, celebrated ginger for its healing powers!
Initially exported to ancient Rome, here it represented wealth and fertility!
However nowadays, it grows in any sub – tropical climate, with India being one of the largest producers.
Ginger was traded as a commodity from at least the 13th century and just 100 years became incredibly valuable. It has been recorded that one plant was equivalent in value to that of a live sheep!
The English botanist William Roscoe gave the plant the name ‘Zingiber officinale’ in 1807. The name ‘Zingiber’ is via the Greek word ‘zingiberis’ derived from the Sanskrit word ‘shringavera’, which means ‘shaped like a deer’s antlers’; ‘officinale’ indicates medicinal properties of the plant.
Today we have the luxury of being able to easily purchase Ginger at our local shops and supermarkets in many different forms such as fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, candied and powdered.
How is Ginger used in cooking?
Ginger’s pepper-like heat and slight sweet flavours can be used to make a variety of different meals depending on which form is used.
Ginger is a staple spice in the cuisines of India, China, Korea, Thailand, and other Eastern regions, where ginger is usually used to make savoury dishes than sweet ones.
In the UK however, Ginger is traditionally used to make gingerbread and various conserves and marmalades.
Other uses for Ginger
Ginger is not only used as a spice, it can also be used as a natural healing medicine to help cure and prevent the common cold, an upset stomach and is even said to help aid burns.
If you thought the above was impressive, Ginger is also known to be used as a beauty product thanks to its amazing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help to generate circulation when applied to the skin. Of course please check your sensitivity to Ginger before applying it to your skin.
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The Ginger and Spice Festival aims to celebrate the culinary heritage and social history of Market Drayton and the surrounding areas.
It takes place annually during British Food Fortnight, every September.
For all information about the Ginger and Spice Festival, Market Drayton, including the fringe events, please sign up to our ebulletin below or visit the website: www.gingerandspicefest.co.uk