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Ginger

From Academic Kids

Zingiber officinale
Conservation status: Secure

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Zingiberales
Family:Zingiberaceae
Genus:Zingiber
Species:Z. officinale

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Ginger root is used extensively as a spice in many if not most cuisines of the world. Though called a root, it is actually the rhizome of the monocotyledonous perennial plant Zingiber officinale. The active constituent of ginger is zingerone.

Contents

Culinary uses

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. 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 cover up other strong odors and flavors such as in seafood and mutton.

Ginger is also made into candy, is used as a flavoring for cookies and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger ale, a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage.

In Western cuisine, ginger is traditionally restricted to sweet foods, such as ginger ale, gingerbread, and ginger snaps (a type of cookie).

Powdered dry ginger is used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. It tastes quite different from fresh ginger, and neither can be substituted for the other.

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

Economics and distribution

Ginger is grown throughout the tropical areas of the world. The most expensive and highest quality varieties generally come from Australia, South India, and Jamaica, while most mass market ginger is grown in China.

Medical uses

Medical research has shown that ginger root is an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness, morning sickness or other illness. Ginger root also contains many antioxidants. Powdered dried ginger root is made into pills for medicinal use. Chinese women traditionally eat ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. 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.

The chacteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of shogaol 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 reduces nausea. It is on the GRAS list from FDA.

Gardening

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.

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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