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Ginger -The Magic spice
Seasick? Nauseous? Here you go - have some ginger ale....But there is so much we can do with this rhizome that I keep a couple in my pantry just to keep it handy.
I started my fascination with ginger when I first sprained my ankle around 9 years old. My grandmother immediately crushed some ginger and made a poultice, She then wrapped it around my ankle. A sense of warmth started to penetrate into my swollen ankle. It felt like the product Ben Gay or Tiger Balm. After sitting for about an hour, the swelling of my ankle disappeared.
Thus my curiosity led me to occasionally use ginger.
Ginger is also known as zingiber officinale . It is grown in the United States, India and China. It is often used as medicine, spice and used in many recipes.Ginger also acts as a food preservative. It can be frozen or ground up. When the ginger in my pantry gets crinkled and dry, I grind the ginger with my food processor and store it in a glass jar. Ginger is used to:
- flavor sweets such as gingerbread, ginger biscuits and juices
- flavor liqueur - there is one called Canton which is produced in France. There is also ginger wine. Jamaicans use ginger to flavor their beer.
- complement hot coffee and tea, a practice common in India and the Middle East.
- flavor dishes
- make as candy
- make as a pickle - commonly found in Japanese cuisine - if you eat sushi, the ubiquitous ginger is there - it could be pink or white.
Ginger in Beauty Products
Ginger is spicy and no doubt there are products that use ginger to add 'zing' to their products and fragrances. Because it has powerful antioxidants and supposedly boosts the blood flow into scalp and skin, many beauty companies use ginger as one of their ingredients.
Joe Malone of London carry a scent called "Nutmeg & Ginger Cologne." It is mixed with sandalwood and cedarwood. Ginger is then added along with nutmeg to create this fascinating and eye popping scent.
I found several products that use ginger in their products:
Hand and body melon and ginger DERMA E body lotion....Decleor Matifying Lotion [a water-based lotion for oily skin].....Origins Line - bath and body Ginger line.....[I've tried this and you really feel the warmth of the ginger and its subtle scent]...Cucina Collection - Hand & Ginger Sicilian Lemon....DuWop Tinted Prime Lip Venom in Samba - this has ginger and warms your lips thus creating the "puckered" look....Thymes Wild Ginger Body Lotion..Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone 3-Minute Facial - this contains ginger root extract which calms puffiness, an anti-inflammatory and brings the blood flow to the skin [remember my ankle?]...Island Girl Body Wash and Perfumes
Tin Tin Jahe Ginger Chew/Candy
GINGER AROUND THE WORLD
Having grown up in Indonesia, the Philippines and several Southeast Asian countries I learned that most Asian countries use ginger as a diaphretic - the heat of the spice when ingested [remember my ankle?] is known to absorb and neutralize acids in the stomach which draws the toxins out of our bodies via our sweat glands. I was introduced to several types of ginger:
PHILIPPINES:They have 4 types. The Filipino native ginger comes in two colors - white and yellow. Another type is called Imugan which bears more crops than the original native. Jamaica "Oya" is another type that is used to manufacture soft drinks. Last, is the Hawaiian ginger. The Hawaiian ginger is normally used for making into powdered or dried ginger.
INDONESIA: As a child growing up in this beautiful country, I recall eating ginger candy. It was called Tin Tin Jaha Ginger Chew/Candy . I still love this candy - it is soft, chewy and contains no artificial flavorings or preservatives. Now, we know that ginger is also a preservative of foods and since this candy has 8.14% levels of ginger, it has a shelf life of 18 months without preservatives. However, this candy is sensitive to heat. I carry a box with me when going on boat trips or if I feel nauseous. It's also a great after dinner chew.
Did you know that ginger was used as a horse suppository by pre World War I regiments? That is because ginger is also a minor chemical irritant. They called this "figging." This practice was also known as feaguing and they used to "ginger up" older horses. How does this happen? They insert a fresh piece of ginger into the rectum of the horse. Because of the strong burning sensation [it does not cause permanent damage] the older horse reacts to the heat, thus holding its tail and head high. The horse then moves around and acts like, a young horse!