From zesty gingersnaps to savory stir-fry dishes, ginger has a wide variety of culinary uses. The spice is characterized by its peppery, slightly sweet flavor and its pungent, spicy aroma, making it a common ingredient in Asian and Indian dishes. Here in America, ginger is typically used in sweet applications like cookies, cakes or pies. Another bonus: ginger boasts impressive health benefits.
Ginger is indigenous to Southeastern Asia where it was first prized for its culinary and medicinal uses. The name gingerroot means “horn root” and is of Sanskrit origin. Over time, use of the spice spread west, appearing in Europe by the 1st century as a result of the spice trade. Eventually ginger reached North America, thanks to Spanish explorers. Today Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia are the large producers of commercial ginger.
Fresh ginger (or ginger root) can be found in the produce section of the grocery store. Choose pieces of ginger root with a smooth skin and heavy for their size. Avoid buying wrinkly pieces of ginger that have sprouted. Fresh, unpeeled ginger can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for up to six months. When preparing fresh ginger for recipes, be sure to peel the ginger root first. This can be done using a vegetable peeler, paring knife or spoon.
Ginger provides the perfect complement to fall flavors like pumpkin or maple. Try using fresh ginger in Pumpkin-Ginger Crumb Cake. Savory recipes are also delicious with fresh ginger. Ginger Curry Shrimp Skewers are an easy weeknight meal option that are loaded with flavor.
Ground or powdered ginger can easily replace fresh ginger in recipes. It has a long shelf life (up to a year!) when stored in a cool, dry place. Substitution recommendations vary, but a generally accepted rule is using about 1/4 as much ground ginger as you would fresh. Another option? Use roasted ground ginger for a warm, sweet flavor in your finished product.
Transport your taste buds abroad by making Moroccan Turkey Burgers, which are seasoned with allspice, cumin and, of course, ground ginger. Ginger also shines in our Apple Ginger Pie recipe. You can find the spice in the pie’s crust, filling and topping!
Crystallized or candied ginger is fresh ginger root that has been cooked in sugar syrup and coated with coarse sugar to make it sweet and gummy. You can make your own or find it in the spice aisle of many grocery stores. Sweet ginger bits are another form of crystallized ginger. They are tiny pieces, perfect for sprinkling on baked goods or using in salads.
Crystallized ginger is good enough to eat plain, but it’s even better when paired with chocolate, like in Chocolate Chip & Ginger Cookies. Apricot Ginger Bread also gets a zing of gingery flavor from crystallized ginger, plus it adds a textural element to each slice. Top a warm piece of bread with a pat of Land O Lakes® Butter to complete the indulgence.
Whether you’re winding down from a busy back-to-school season or winding up for baking season, consider adding ginger to your spice repertoire. Need even more ideas for creative ways to use ginger? Search the term “ginger” on landolakes.com for ginger-filled recipes, ranging from simple sides to show-stopping desserts.
This article was written by Ashley M., intern in the Land O’Lakes Test Kitchen.