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What are the Benefits of Ginger?
Ready to Eat and Enjoy!
Ginger for Health and Taste
Ginger (Zingiber officinate) is a wonderful food for your health. The underground stem of the ginger is the part we will be working with and talking about.
The underground stem of ginger (Zingiber officinate) is well known in Chinese medicine to be helpful for arthritis, bursitis, motion sickness, and nausea sufferers. Ginger also helps relieve chest congestion and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Chinese medicine considers ginger anti-flu and anti-cancer. This study was lead by Dr. Hiroshi Ochiai in Japan.
Dr. Andrew Weil advises taking one to two pieces of crystallized ginger for nausea and prevention of motion sickness. Dr. Weil also recommends placing crystallized ginger in your tea for a soothing drink. I recommend it because it will make your tea taste wonderful!
There are various folk medicine uses for ginger that include an Amish tonic that proposes to help with arthritis, high cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, digestion, sinus infection, and allergies. If you want to have such a tonic, search on the Internet for Yoder’s ginger tonic.
Ginger is on the FDA’s list of generally safe list. As with all things, take ginger in moderation. Ginger if taken in large quantities can annoy your stomach, cause gas, and bloating.
Do take the candy we are about to make in moderation. It is steeped in simple sugar syrup!
Selecting and Storing Ginger
The whole root of ginger is found in the vegetable and fruit area of your grocery store. It is called a “hand of ginger” and by looking at it you can see why. Look for firm ginger. Do not buy soft or yellow or blackish ginger. It is easier to buy a hand and then break it off at home for use. When you break off a piece from the hand of ginger it should crisply snap right off.
Ginger can be stored in the freezer section of your refrigerator where it will last for several months. Eventually the ginger will loose its taste and potency even in the freezer. Be sure to label the container or plastic bag that you store the ginger in with the date you first froze it.
When a recipe calls for ginger, just pull out the frozen ginger; peel a bit and micro plane off the amount that you need for a recipe. Return the ginger to the freezer for the next use. There is no need to thaw the ginger to micro plane it.
Ginger is not expensive.
We love the taste of crystallized ginger. It is generally expensive and hard to find. By hard to find I mean hard to find quality crystallized ginger. The best quality for the price that we have found is at Trader Joes. This lead us to wonder if I could make our own. I have made other candies from fruits and roots. So, it made sense for me to make our own crystallized ginger.
The first thing I had to learn was how long to cook the sliced ginger in order to make it tender enough to eat but not turn into ginger jam! The 40 minutes was just fine. By the way, tasting it at this point will certainly bring tears to your eyes! In fact the whole kitchen was a bit much for my husband during the cooking. The strong ginger smell made his eyes water!
Next was to make simple syrup to plunge the cooked ginger into. I used ½ cup of the ginger water and 2 cups of cane sugar. Once this boiled and the sugar melted, I added back the drained ginger. I then dried the ginger. It was sticky and hot. I used tongs to spread it on the drying rack.
After it dried I packed it in a sealed container with MORE sugar. Even though it should now be beyond spoiling, I stored it in the back of the fridge for two weeks. It is yummy. It is especially good when put into hot tea.
This is much more potent than the crystallized ginger you buy at the store. We like it better. However, the cooking and drying process does take a long time!
- two hands ginger root, see picture
- 4 C. sugar
- 2 T. vanilla
- 4 cups filtered water
- Peel the ginger, wash the ginger, and slice it into 1/8 to ¼ pieces
- Boil the ginger in the 4 cups of water for approximately 40 minutes
- Drain the ginger. Retain all the liquid.
- Use ½ cup of the water and 2 C sugar. Cook until the sugar mixture boils. Keep a tight watch on this! Reduce heat and add the cooked ginger back. Bring back to a boil and then reduce to low.
- Cook the ginger until it is dry This took 4 hours.
- Spread on a rack. Be sure to use was paper on the pan! I also sprayed the rack with cooking spray to make it easier to remove the dried ginger.
- Air dry the ginger until they are dry chips This took 3 days and I live at 12% humidity. So, do plan for a place to put them. OR slow dry them in the oven with only the pilot light on OR low low heat
- Pack in air tight sterilized jars.
- Place in the back of the fridge for two weeks. (We cheated and had some during those two weeks, esp. in our hot teas!)
- Enjoy as candy or put in your tea