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Ginger – All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce

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Jun 17, 2021

What is ginger?

Ginger is a root widely used as a spice for its sweet and spicy flavor. It is wildly popular in cooking due to its versatile and broad applications and many health benefits.

Ginger has a slightly biting taste and can be dried and ground into a fine powder. But fresh ginger is often called on in recipes to brighten up the flavor. It adds a flavorful dimension to sauces, marinades, glazes, curries, baked goods, pickles, meats, vegetables, soups, stir-frys, juices, and of course, ginger ale.

In Japan, slices of ginger are eaten as a palate cleanser between dishes or courses, and for this reason, it is almost always provided as an accompaniment to sushi.

Fresh ginger is available in the fresh vegetable section of grocery stores and for same-day delivery via Instacart. An unusual-looking vegetable, it is bumpy and gnarled. Although the thin skin is often peeled before serving, the skin is edible.

The ginger plant, known as Zingiber officinale, is part of the same family as cardamom, turmeric, and galangal. The name has its root in the Sanskrit word “srngaveram,” which means “horn body” and describes the root. The rhizome, or underground part of the stem, is the part you eat.

Where did ginger originate from?

Ginger most likely originated from Southeast Asia, where its use in China and India dates back to ancient times. Confucious was even said to eat ginger with every meal. It is a cultivated plant, meaning it did not exist in a wild state and was altered by humans. The use of ginger expanded beyond cooking, as ginger was used as a tonic to treat common ailments.

One of the longest traded spices in history, ginger was traded to Mediterranean regions throughout the 1st century. By the 11th century, it was well known in England and beyond. During these times in England, a pound of ginger was akin to the price of a sheep.

Today, India is the largest producer of ginger in the world, producing almost 900,000 tons per year.

What is the nutritional value of ginger?

Ginger has many positive benefits on the body and brain. It doesn’t contain many vitamins and minerals, but natural health practitioners swear by its many powers.

The unique smell and taste come from its natural oils. The natural oil with the greatest medical benefit is gingerol, ginger’s main bioactive compound. Gingerol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it may even reduce the amount of stress-producing free radicals in the body.

Ginger appears to be highly effective in treating nausea, particularly in pregnant women dealing with morning sickness. It can also help in the treatment of chronic indigestion and lower cholesterol and blood sugars to improve heart disease risk factors. To get the most benefits, consume ginger in foods and juices, not just in powders and supplements.

How is ginger grown?

Ginger is propagated by planting root “parent” stalks. It has been cultivated this way for so long that ginger no longer goes to seed. It is planted in the spring and summer months and harvested in the winter when the leaves begin to die, simply by pulling the roots and drying them in the sun. Ginger can be grown indoors with less dependence on the season.

It is a perennial plant similar to a reed with annual leafy stems. The stems grow to about 3–4ft tall. When these stalks whither, the ginger is harvested and immediately scalded or washed and scraped to prevent sprouting.

When is ginger in season?

Ginger grows to full maturity in 8 to 10 months. In India, ginger is usually planted from March to June, as these months signify the beginning of the rainy or monsoon season. Fresh ginger is harvested 4 to 5 months later, whereas ginger for oils or powders is harvested 8 to 10 months later.

How do you pick ginger at the grocery store?

Determining the quality of ginger requires a close look at the skin. Look out for shiny, taut, thin skin, and avoid thick and fibrous skin. A good indicator of thin skin is if it easily knicks by the scratch of a fingernail.

Shop via Instacart when you want to add fresh ginger to your next dish. Add it to your cart, and then use the “Instructions” option to give specific preferences or directions on choosing the best products. Shop for ginger here.

How to store ginger

Store ginger in the refrigerator, intact, with the skin on, to prolong its life. Cut ginger can also be stored here, but it won’t last as long. To get the most mileage out of ginger, store it in the crisper drawer in a sealed freezer bag with all the air pushed out, where it will last up to a month (compared to 1 week at room temperature).

Ginger can also be frozen and used as needed with just as much ease, as it is easy to peel and grate frozen ginger. In the freezer, ginger will last up to 6 months.

How to tell if ginger is bad

Ginger should always have a firm texture and a strong, crisp scent. When ginger is rotten, its smell will be less potent, and the root vegetable will have a sharp, unpleasant odor. If it feels soft or mushy, toss it out.

What can I substitute for ginger?

Despite ginger’s unique flavor, it can be substituted with other spices that share its mildly sweet and spicy flavor. Spices that can provide a similar effect include allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, or mace.

Where can I find ginger near me?

Ordering via Instacart is the best and fastest way to get this savory and versatile ingredient delivered to your kitchen. In addition to fresh produce, we can select and deliver the other ingredients you need to make your next marinade, sauce, or soup.

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