Ginger root (which is technically a rhizome) is a spice originating from the ginger plant. It has a mild but distinct flavor and aroma that you may enjoy in your cooking. Ginger has been used for centuries as a spice, and many people, and cuisines, enjoy it for its unique taste.
Apart from it’s great, flavor boosting taste, ginger has for a very long time been known to offer significant health benefits, especially concerning digestion.
There are different types of ginger root, or at least, different ways in which this product is typically purchased and consumed. Some types of ginger have a more intense or sharp taste and are often used in cooking.
So, whether you’re in culinary school or just a home cook who enjoys working with exotic flavors, you’ll want to learn about the different forms of ginger and how best to use each one.
What are the different types of ginger root?
Fresh Ginger: The most common type of ginger root you may come across is fresh ginger. Fresh roots are usually brown in color with tan skin and they have a knobbly shape. Fresh ginger root has a very strong flavor.
When you cut fresh ginger, it exudes a clear, watery juice which is essential in most recipes. Fresh ginger root is available year-round (it will usually be in the vegetable section of your supermarket, often with the fresh garlic) and can be used in stir-fries, stews, and pies. You can also chew on a piece of raw ginger for health benefits.
Powdered Ginger: Ground or powdered ginger can easily be purchased from the grocery store – you’ll find it with the herbs and spices. It is made by grating or pulverizing fresh ginger and then drying it.
Powdered ginger has a much milder flavor than its fresh counterpart. It can be used in baked goods and desserts – like gingerbread men!
Crushed or Minced Ginger: Ginger root can also be crushed or minced to a fine texture. It is very versatile and can be added to many dishes. When crushed or minced, ginger has a more sweet flavor rather than spicy.
Many chefs use this form of ginger in Asian cuisine. It’s usually sold this way in a small glass jar in your supermarket and can be a good way to keep a supply of ginger for longer periods as it keeps quite well in the refrigerator.
Candied Ginger: Candied ginger is a type of crystallized sugar used to preserve ginger. The process involves boiling the root in sugar syrup until the water is evaporated. This process results in a sweet, chewy exterior and a firm, sticky interior.
Canning Ginger: This is a type of preparation that uses alcohol as a preservative to prevent bacteria from growing on the ginger root. It is then immersed in canning syrup or paste as it is stored in jars. The molasses and sugar from the syrup soften the skin of the ginger root and prevent discoloration.
Pickled Ginger or Preserved Ginger: Pickled or preserved ginger is made from adding vinegar to fresh ginger, which causes fermentation. It has a sweeter taste than fresh, but it does not have the same distinct flavor as other types of ginger. It can be consumed along with food or on its own, like many other pickled vegetables or fruits.
Mature Ginger: Mature ginger is when the fresh ginger has been allowed to grow for 8 to 10 months, which makes it more mature than others. The texture is thicker than other types of ginger, while the flavor is much stronger than fresh or pickled. It is often used as a spice or as a medicine, but some people use it in cooking in small quantities.
Ginger Paste: Ginger paste is when the ginger has been cooked over low heat for several hours, which makes it very smooth. Some people eat this on its own or use it as an ingredient in cooking.
Japanese Gingers: Japanese gingers are a type of plant that can grow up to 8 feet tall and features large leaves and red flowers before producing roots that are used for cooking and medicine. It also grows well in tropical climates such as India.
There are so many uses for ginger, whatever its form. Fresh ginger can be grated, sliced or blended into all sorts of dishes and marinades.
It can also be used for brewing your own ginger tea or added to freshly squeezed juices.
If you don’t have any fresh ginger handy, store bought minced ginger is a great product to keep in your everyday ingredients stash.
Use it in place of fresh ginger when cooking or making marinades or dressings. It probably won’t be as successful as a replacement in ginger tea or juices though.
Meanwhile ground or powdered ginger link to new ginger powder article on ideas that spark should always be kept in your spice rack – you never know when you might need to add a hit of ginger to some baked goods. This is the best way to use ginger in cakes, muffins and, of course, gingerbread.
If you like ginger, I’d recommend having those 3 main types of ginger (fresh, minced and ground/powdered) at all times in your kitchen. Healthy and delicious, what’s not to love!