The ginger plant can be found in many parts of Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean. The correct name for ginger is ginger root however, it is most commonly known as ginger.
Ginger's current name comes from the Middle English gingivere, but ginger dates back over 3,000 years to the Sanskrit srngaveram meaning "horn root" with reference to its appearance. In Greek it was ziggiberis, and in Latin, zinziberi.
Ginger has influenced the history of man since ancient China. Wars were waged and entire dynasties rose and fell with the objective of seizing it. The trade of such spices were the root of the world's economy for centuries.
Although it was well-known to the ancient Romans, ginger nearly disappeared in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Thanks to Marco Polo's trip to the Far East, ginger came back into favor in Europe, becoming not only a much-coveted spice, but also a very expensive one.
Queen Elizabeth I of England is credited with the invention of the gingerbread man, which became a popular Christmas treat.
Ginger (botanical name Zingiber officinale) is in the same family as turmeric and cardamom. It is native to Southern Asia and has long been a staple addition to Asian cuisines.
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Ginger is quite popular in the Caribbean Islands, where it grows wild in lush tropical settings. Jamaican ginger is prized for its strong, perky flavor and this island currently provides most of the world's supply, followed by Inida, Africa and China.
The gnarled, bumpy root of the ginger plant is the source of this wonderful spice. Although is it easily grown in tropical regions of the south, you will rarely be treated with blooms during cultivation at home the way it normally does in the wild. It can easily be grown in a flowerpot at home, but be sure to bring it indoord, when the weather turns cool.
Ginger has many uses in the home remedies department and can be used to help arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, diabetes, stomach upset and motion sickness.
Serving size: 100 grams
Make sure the ginger is firm, smooth and free of mold. Fresh ginger is available in two forms: young and mature. Young ginger can be used with its skin, while mature ginger has a tough skin and needs to be peeled.
Store fresh ginger unpeeled either wrapped in a damp cloth or towel in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least three weeks. Placed in a plastic bag, it will keep in the freezer for half a year.