Ginger

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How to read a taxobox
Zingiber officinale

Conservation status
Secure
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Zingiber
Species: Z. officinale
Binomial name
Zingiber officinale
Roscoe

Ginger is commonly used as a spice in cuisines throughout the world. Though commonly referred to as a root, it is actually the rhizome of the monocotyledonous perennial plant Zingiber officinale.

Originating in southern China, cultivation of ginger spread to India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean.[1]

Contents

[edit] Chemistry

Ginger section
Ginger section

Ginger contains up to 3% of an essential oil that causes the fragrance of the spice. The main constituents are sesquiterpenoids with (-)-zingiberene as the main component. Lesser amounts of other sesquiterpenoids (β-sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene and farnesene) and a small monoterpenoid fraction (β-phelladrene, cineol, and citral) have also been identified.

The pungent taste of ginger is due to nonvolatile phenylpropanoids (particularly gingerol and zingerone) and diarylheptanoids (gingeroles and shoagoles); the latter are more pungent and form from the former when ginger is dried. Cooking ginger transforms gingerol into zingerone, which is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma.[2]

[edit] Culinary uses

25.4-pound ginger root
25.4-pound ginger root

Young ginger roots are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as in seafood and mutton.

Ginger is also candied, is used as a flavoring for candy, cookies, crackers and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger ale, a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the similar, but somewhat spicier beverage ginger beer. A ginger-flavored liqueur called Canton is produced in the Guangdong province of China; it is advertised to be based on a recipe created for the rulers of the Qing Dynasty and made from six different varieties of ginger. Green ginger wine is a ginger flavoured wine produced in the United Kingdom by Crabbie's and Stone's and traditionally sold in a green glass bottle. Ginger is also used as a spice added to hot coffee and tea.

In Japan, ginger is pickled to make beni shoga and gari or grated and used raw on tofu or noodles.

In Western cuisine, ginger is traditionally restricted to sweet foods, such as ginger ale, gingerbread, ginger snaps, ginger cake and ginger biscuits.

Powdered dry ginger root (ground ginger) is typically used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. Ground and fresh ginger taste quite different and ground ginger is a particularly poor substitute for fresh ginger. Fresh ginger can be successfully substituted for ground ginger and should be done at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground. You generally achieve better results by substituting only half the ground ginger for fresh ginger.

In Myanmar, ginger is used in a salad dish called gyin-tho, which consists of shredded ginger preserved in oil, and a variety of nuts and seeds.

In traditional Korean Kimchi, ginger is minced finely and added into the ingredients of the spicy paste just before the fermenting process.

In India, ginger is used in all sub-varieties of the Indian cuisines. In south India, ginger is used in the production of a candy called Inji-murappa ("ginger candy" from Tamil). This candy is mostly sold by vendors to bus passengers in bus stops and in small tea shops as a locally produced item. Candied ginger is also very famous around these parts. Additionally, in Tamil Nadu, especially in the Tanjore belt, a variety of ginger which is less spicy is used when tender to make fresh pickle with the combination of lemon juice, salt and tender green chillies. This kind of pickle was generally made before the invention of refrigeration and stored for a maximum of 4-5 days. The pickle gains a mature flavor when the juices cook the ginger over the first 24 hours.

In South East Asia, the flower of a type of ginger is used in cooking. This unopened flower is known in the Malay language as Bunga Kantan, and is used in salads and also as garnish for sour-savoury soups, like Assam Laksa.

Ginger has a sialagogue action, stimulating the production of saliva.

[edit] Medicinal uses

One medical research study had results indicating that ginger might be an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness or other illness,[3] The study however, failed to show a significant difference between ginger and a placebo. There are several proposed mechanisms of action for the anti-emetic properties of ginger but there is not yet conclusive support for any particular model.

Modern research on nausea and motion sickness used approximately 1 gram of ginger powder daily. Though there are claims for efficacy in all causes of nausea, the PDR recommends against taking ginger root for morning sickness commonly associated with pregnancy due to possible mutagenic effects. Nevertheless, Chinese women traditionally have taken ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (compiled by health professionals and pharmacists), states that ginger is likely safe for use in pregnancy when used orally in amounts found in foods. Ginger ale and ginger beer have been recommended as "stomach settlers" for generations in countries where the beverages are made. Ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps in the United States in the past.

In Western-hemisphere nations, powdered dried ginger root is made into capsules and sold in pharmacies for medicinal use. In the US, ginger is not approved by the FDA for the treatment or cure of any disease. Ginger is instead sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. In India, ginger is applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache. In Myanmar, ginger and local sweet (Htan nyat) which is made from palm tree juice are boiled together and taken to prevent the Flu. A hot ginger drink (made with sliced ginger cooked in sweetened water or a Coca-Cola-like drink) has been reported as a folk medicine for common cold.[4]

Ginger has also historically been used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, although medical studies as to the efficacy of ginger in decreasing inflammation have shown mixed results. There are several studies that demonstrate a decrease in joint pain from arthritis after taking ginger, though the results have not been consistent from study to study. It may also have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties, making it theoretically effective in treating heart disease; while early studies have shown some efficacy, it is too early to determine whether further research will bear this out.[1]

The medical form of ginger historically was called "Jamaica ginger"; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, being much used for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of nauseous medicines. The tea brewed from this root was an old-fashioned remedy for colds.

The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shoagoles and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about 1%–3% by weight of fresh ginger. The gingerols have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic, antibacterial, and GI tract motility effects.

Ginger is on the GRAS list from FDA. However, like other herbs, ginger may be harmful because it may interact with other medications, such as warfarin; hence, a physician or pharmacist should be consulted before taking the herb. Ginger is also contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones, because the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder. [2].

[edit] Ginger allergies

Some people are allergic to ginger. Generally, this is reported as having a gaseous component. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of an extreme constriction or tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure.[3]

[edit] Horticulture

Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers. Because of the aesthetic appeal and the adaptivity of the plant to warm climates, ginger is often used as landscaping around subtropical homes. It is a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems, three to four feet high.

Historical methods of gathering the root describes, when the stalk withers, it is immediately scalded, or washed and scraped, in order to kill it and prevent sprouting. The former method, applied generally to the older and poorer roots, produces Black Ginger; the latter, gives White Ginger. The natural color of the "white" scraped ginger is a pale buff--it is often whitened by bleaching or liming, but generally at the expense of some of its real value.

[edit] References in popular culture

  • To members of the Race, an alien species in Harry Turtledove's best-selling novel series Worldwar, ginger is a highly addictive, psychoactive drug, with an effect similar to that of cocaine or PCP in humans.
  • In Cockney rhyming slang, ginger is a derogatory euphemism for homosexual. The original slang rhymed queer with ginger beer.
  • In the west of Scotland (particularly Glasgow), ginger is a term for any carbonated soft drink.
  • Before the First World War, it was common for mounted regiments to receive large vats of root ginger before public ceremonies, which were peeled and cut into suppositories for the horses. The burning sensation made the horses hold their tails up this is called Figging or feaguing.
  • Ginger is also a common term for red-haired individuals who are slowly going extinct because of their genetic inferiority. Ginger's such as Changaris also have no souls and are known for their hissy fits which have been compared to those of a whiny 4 year old girl.

[edit] Similar species

Myoga (Zingiber mioga Roscoe) appears in Japanese cuisine; the flower buds are the part eaten.

Another plant in the Zingiberaceae family, galangal, is used for similar purposes as ginger in Thai cuisine. Galangal is also called Thai ginger. Also referred to as galangal, fingerroot (Boesenbergia rotunda), or Chinese ginger or the Thai krachai, is used in cooking and medicine.

A dicotyledonous native species of eastern North America, Asarum canadense, is also known as "wild ginger", and its root has similar aromatic properties, but it is not related to true ginger and should not be used as a substitute because it contains the carcinogen aristolochic acid. This plant is also a powerful diuretic, or urinary stimulator. It is part of the Aristolochiaceae family.

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[edit] References

  1. ^ origin and spread of ginger
  2. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (2nd ed.). New York: Scribner pp. 425-426.
  3. ^ Ernst, E.; and M. H. Pittler (2000). "Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials" (PDF). British Journal of Anesthesia 84 (3): 367–371. Retrieved on 2006-09-06. 
  4. ^ Susan Jakes "Beverage of Champions. Part One: Hot Coke with Ginger, A Possibly Magical Elixir"

[edit] External links

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