How to Grow, Cook, and Benefit Health-Wise from Ginger - Cookie Recipe Included!
Types of Ginger Plants
- Zingiberaceae is the official name for the flowering family of ginger plants.
- There are reported to be more than 1,000 species of these beauties!
- Indigenous to Southeast Asia, these plants are grown outdoors in many tropical and temporal regions of the world.
- The unusual blossoms come in numerous colors and shapes.
- Sizes of mature plants vary from one foot to eight or more feet, averaging four to five feet in the majority of cases.
The tropical perennial ginger plant had been one of my mother's favorites for use in landscaping while living in the South.
When we both sold our homes and found the house that my husband, mother and I would share, the garden needed a little bit of reworking. When choices were being made at the nursery as to the type of plants to purchase, my mother expressed an interest in having some ginger planted in the backyard. We happily obliged.
My mother had it planted at the house she had sold and it added greatly to the tropical look that surrounded her pool. The ginger was intermingled with banana plants, crotons, ferns, azaleas, and other plants all of which I had planted for her.
How to Grow Ginger in Warm Climates
- Plant the rhizomes two to three inches deep in moist, well-drained fertile soil.
- These plants prefer slightly acidic soil.
- Some of these plants can tolerate full sun, but most prefer filtered light. So pay attention to the type of plant you are purchasing and follow the directions.
- Mulch the plants to keep them moist but not sodden.
- Use fertilizer about once a month during the blooming period.
- High humidity is preferred.
In Houston, we have a semi-tropical climate and things grow very quickly in this humid environment. We seldom have severe freezes and even when we do, the ginger comes back each year. After all danger of freezing weather has passed, I simply cut it back to a few inches above the ground if the foliage has been damaged and it quickly regrows.
Last year our winter was so mild that the ginger plants that have large oak trees offering a degree of shelter from above were never touched...thus their current height of about five feet against the wooden fence.
If growing ginger plants in colder climates, the rhizomes can be dug up and stored in a cool dry environment and then planted again after the weather has warmed up each spring.
Sample of Different Colored Flowers of the Ginger PlantClick thumbnail to view full-size
Medicinal Uses of Ginger
This is a fascinating subject. The ginger roots or rhizomes to be correct have been utilized by people for centuries in medicinal applications. Often they are made into teas. Zingiber is the name of the edible ginger rhizomes (those thick, fleshy roots) found in grocery stores.
Here is just a sampling of how ginger has and is still being used.
- For inflammatory diseases such as arthritis
- Nausea control
- Motion Sickness
- Anti-Cancer activity
- Mild stomach upset
- Heart conditions
- Lowering cholesterol
Some of these and other uses of ginger have been studied by various medical centers and there appears to be some validity to at least some of these claims.
Note: Be sure to check with your doctor and inquire about any contraindications with medications you may be taking before you start using herbal treatments.
Cooking with Ginger
Ginger has been used to spice up many different types of cooking throughout the centuries. It crosses cultural barriers and everything from spicy and sweet to savory dishes are enhanced by using ginger as an ingredient.
I am going to share a cookie recipe with you that has been a favorite in our family for many years. Although ginger is not the prime ingredient, the cookie would not be the same without it. My mother gave me this recipe along with some other favorites after I got married.
Molasses Sugar Cookies
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
(Additional granulated sugar)
- Melt shortening in a 3 or 4-quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add the sugar, molasses, and egg beating well.
- Sift together the flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt adding it to the first mixture.
- Mix well and chill.
- Form into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.
- Place on greased cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
- Bake in a 375-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
These are my husband's favorite cookies!
Tip: These cookies freeze beautifully.
The Versatility of Ginger Plants
This should give you an idea of the great versatility of the ginger plant from its use in landscaping to medicinal uses and also its wide application in various cooking methods.
I think that I'll go and brew a cup of tea and have one of those molasses sugar cookies that I had in the freezer and used for the photo above.
Many a gingerbread house is made during the Christmas season. Have you ever made one of these? Perhaps the video below will inspire you to give it a try.
Now for Some Fun!
Do you use ginger in your cooking and/or baking?
© 2009 Peggy Woods