The Chinese and Indians have been consuming ginger as a tonic for over 5,000 years. Even 2000 years ago, ginger was one of the most important commodities in trade between India and the Roman Empire. The Romans especially appreciated the medicinal properties of ginger. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, ginger continued to be one of the main spices „imported” in Europe, being sold mainly by the Arabs. At that time, ginger was a very expensive commodity, a few grams costing as much as a sheep in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Nowadays, ginger is much more affordable.
How much does ginger cost?
Ginger is an ideal ingredient for many recipes, and it’s often found in bulk packages. The price for this spicy root will depend on both where it’s being sold and how much you buy, with fresh roots averaging between $5 and $18 per pound while smaller seasonings are sold at about $2 to $5 per ounce.
Ginger is a herbaceous plant that grows especially in the tropics. It needs constant and high temperature to grow properly and high humidity. The ginger rhizome has an irregular shape, is contorted and gnarled, and can reach up to 2 – 2.40 inches in length.
Its name comes from the word “singivera” from a dialect spoken in southeastern India a few thousand years ago, a word that today translates as “deer antler shaped root”.
Depending on the country of origin, ginger has different features and textures. Jamaican ginger is commercially available in shades of light yellow. African and Indian ginger has a darker peel and is of lower quality, except in Kenya. There are also dried ginger roots; some of them are darker in color and are sold with the peel and others are already packaged, cleaned, and vacuumed.
Like its appearance, the taste of ginger is just as unmistakable and depends on how it is prepared. Consumed in fresh form, it has a hot, pungent, slightly sour taste.
Ginger usually grows in warm areas of Asia, such as China, India, and Japan. It is also found in South Africa, South America, and the Middle East. The largest producer of ginger in the world is India, which contributes about 34% of the total amount of ginger worldwide, followed by Nigeria and China.
Important things to consider
Ginger is the main healing plant used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. An old Indian proverb says that “everything that is good is found in ginger”. Ayurvedic verses even recommend that everyone eat fresh ginger before a meal to stimulate digestion. Nowadays we prefer to drink ginger tea, being easier to consume.
The intense aroma and smell of ginger are given by its natural oils, and the best-known one is gingerol, the main bioactive compound responsible for most of the therapeutic effects that this spice has. Researchers in India and Saudi Arabia have found that gingerol inhibits the growth of many types of bacteria. For example, ginger can be used as a remedy against conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis, as it destroys bacteria in the oral cavity that cause inflammation of the gums.
Depending on the origin of the plant, 100 grams of dried/crushed ginger contain the following vitamins and minerals:
- 79 calories;
- 13 mg NA (sodium);
- 415 mg K (Potassium);
- 18 g healthy carbohydrates;
- 7 g raw sugar;
- 8 g vegetable protein;
- 16 mg Ca (Calcium);
- 5 mg Vitamin C in its pure state;
- 6 mg Fe (Iron);
- 2 mg Vitamin B2 (riboflavin);
- 43 mg Mg (Magnesium).
Ginger proves to be a reliable help for those who want to reduce at least part of their coffee consumption because it has similar effects, but without side effects. Ginger increases blood circulation to the brain and regulates blood sugar levels, so you will not experience decreases in energy levels during the day.
Ginger is very good boiled, in the form of tea (although even so, you will feel the spiciness), or as a spice in cooked dishes. Both raw and dried ginger can be used in various dishes: some people prefer to add it to fish dishes, while others use it to prepare desserts.
Fresh ginger should be dense, smooth, and free of dark spots and bruises. Moreover, the longer the root, the more essential oils, and trace elements it contains.
The ginger is kept in a cool place for no more than 10 days. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 months in an airtight box, so as not to dehydrate.
The simplest and safest method of storage is by freezing. Uncleaned ginger root is packed and placed in the freezer. Also, it can be kept shaved in the freezer, in a tightly closed box or bag, so that it does not lose its flavor or properties.
Contraindications to ginger consumption
Ginger eaten in its natural state is considered healthy and without dangers in the vast majority of cases. In some cases, there is a possibility of exacerbation of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.
How can I save money?
Ginger is a common ingredient used in many recipes. It has the ability to keep for an extended period of time as long your storage containers are kept at room temperature, but it’s important not to buy too much ginger or spoilage may occur before you’ve had the opportunity to use all that was purchased.