Using Fresh and Ground Ginger

Using Fresh and Ground Ginger
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Ginger is one of those indispensable herbs that we often take for granted. I can remember having a jar of ground ginger in my cupboard for so long that it lost its flavor! That was before I realized how many things it could be used for. In the 13th Century the English Royalty loved it so much it became worth its weight in gold. We are fortunate that we can buy ginger fresh or ground at our grocery stores without having to sell our earthly possessions.
The ginger "root" is actually a rhizome, as are Irises. You can see a resemblance once you realize this. Ginger needs to planted fairly shallow in a partially shaded area. I planted mine in a raised bed where I was growing bunching onions, tomatoes and nasturtiums. Despite crowded conditions when everything had a growth spurt, it grew to 20 inches with 4 "stalks" with no attention given to it. I have dug it up, and now it's in a pot on my kitchen window for the fall and winter season. The type of ginger we find in the store is the True Ginger or Zingiber officinale. There are many varieties of ginger that are ornamental, and some including curcuma domestica (turmeric), alpinia galanga, boesenbergia rotunda, and etlingera elatior are edible.

You can try growing it as I did by planting a ginger root in a 12 inch pot, just below the surface of the dirt. Place the pot in a warm sunny spot, making sure it has good drainage. Water sparingly until the small green shoots appear, and then water well. Ginger loves being misted and fertilized regularly. You will have to bring it inside during the winter, where they will become dormant and die down. After the plant is well established, in about a year, dig up the roots from the newer sprouts to use; these will be more flavorful.

When choosing a ginger root to buy, choose that which is smooth and unblemished. It should be crisp, not limp. Fresh ginger will keep for a week at room temperature and for about a month in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap. Young ginger, if you can find it or grow it yourself, has a thin skin, and can be sliced right into stir fries and other dishes. The older the ginger is, the stronger the flavor and hotness of the spice.

You can use fresh ginger in recipes that call for dried, but use about half the amount called for. Try adding thin slivers to your poached fruit recipes or compotes. Grate the ginger root and add to your vegetable recipes as you boil or stem them.

Fresh ginger is wonderful in drinks, baked goods and other dishes. The following recipes will give you an idea of how versatile it is!

Ginger Cinnamon Tea


1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
6 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons honey

In a saucepan, simmer the ginger, cinnamon sticks, and water for about 20 minutes. Add honey and strain tea through a sieve or tea strainer.

Ginger Lemonade


3 cups granulated sugar
4 quarts water
10-14 slices fresh ginger root
4 cups fresh lemon juice

Combine sugar, water and ginger root in a pan. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Cool for about 15 minutes. Remove the ginger. Pour into a covered pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with ice.

Lemon Ginger Thyme Muffins



1 cup DANNON® Plain Yogurt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons fresh chopped ginger
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Lightly grease 2 mini-muffin pans or 1 muffin tin (12) Pre-heat oven 350°F. Sift together flour, soda, ground ginger and salt; reserve. With a mixer, cream oil and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Mix in flour and yogurt, alternatively, ending with flour. (This is a basic muffin batter.) Fold in raisins, fresh ginger, lemon zest and thyme. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins and bake: mini muffins for 18-20 minutes/large muffins for 22-25 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. Makes 12 large muffins or about 48 mini muffins.

Ginger Cookies


1 cup plus 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup (lightly packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup molasses

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl and set aside. At medium speed, cream the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, lemon zest, and ginger together in a bowl until light and fluffy, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula while mixing. Add the molasses and mix on low speed for several seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the mixture is fluffy again. Scrape the bowl. Divide the dough in half. Form logs of each half and wrap tightly in waxed paper. Chill the dough for 2 hours. After 2 hours gently roll the wrapped dough back and forth on the work surface to smooth out the cylinder. Refrigerate again for 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Fifteen minutes before baking preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, or leave them ungreased. Cut the rolls into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until they are crisp and firm, with brown edges, 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets. Store covered, or freeze for up to two weeks. Makes 40 cookies.

Ginger Dill Dip


1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 minced or crushed garlic clove
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic and dill together in a bowl, using a whisk. Add ginger to sour cream mixture and blend until smooth. Chill. Serve with fresh vegetables. Note: You can use light mayonnaise and sour cream.

Shrimp Vinaigrette

1 pound medium or large shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons wine or herb vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons minced green onions
1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place shrimp in large bowl. Combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, onions, ginger, garlic, dill, sugar, salt and pepper in a jar; shake to mix. Pour over shrimp, mix gently to coat. Chill 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve on lettuce or greens, or top bread or crackers with the shrimp.

Ginger Peas and Carrots


4 small carrots, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoon chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup peas
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup water

In a medium sized pan, sauté the carrots in the stock for 5 minutes. Add the peas, ginger, garlic and water. Partially cover the pan and when the water boils, turn down the heat and steam for 5-7 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Makes 4 servings.

Ginger Poundcake


3/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup plain yogurt

In a large bowl, beat margarine and sugar until light. Beat in eggs, lemon peel and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, ginger and salt. Beat into sugar mixture, alternately with yogurt, until just blended. Spoon into greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes clean. Cool 15 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve with yogurt or whipped cream and fresh or frozen berries.

Ginger Sheet Cake


3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x 9x2 inch metal baking pan. Line bottom of pan with waxed paper or parchment. Flour and grease the paper and the pan. Beat eggs, egg yolks 1 1/4 cups milk, ginger and vanilla on medium speed in mixing bowl until blended. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat on low speed 30 seconds. Add to flour mixture remaining 1/4 cup milk, butter and oil. Beat on low speed just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 1/2 minutes or until blended. Add one-third of egg mixture, beat on medium speed 20 seconds, until blended. Repeat until all egg mixture is used, scraping down sides after each addition. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool. Peel off waxed paper and invert onto another rack. Place cake on serving platter. Spread Honey-Cream Frosting over sides and top of cake.

Honey-Cream Frosting: Beat 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, beat in 5 cups confectioners' sugar alternately with 3 tablespoons honey until frosting is spreadable.

Grilled Tuna Steaks


4 Tuna Steaks, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Mix the teriyaki sauce, ginger and garlic. Add the tuna and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times. Pre-heat the grill. Place the steaks on grill and cook until just done, basting with the marinade.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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