Ginger, which has been around for hundreds of years, has been put to good use by man. This aromatic root is enjoyed both as a spice to flavor food and drinks, and as medicine. The Chinese prefer it in beef dishes while Europeans like to put it in soups. On the sweet side, there is ginger cake, ginger cookies, gingerbread and ginger ale. Moreover, a cup of ginger tea is a recommended remedy for an upset stomach, nausea, colds, fatigue and headache.
Scientifically, ginger is called Zingiber officinale, and counts the cardamom, turmeric and galangal as its plant relatives. The ginger plant, which is classified as an herb, had its origins in China but is now grown in several tropical areas around the world. Below are more intriguing facts about the ginger.
- Global production of ginger is dominated by India, which currently produces one-third of the world’s supply of ginger.
- The best ginger variety is said to come from Jamaica. Jamaican ginger is in high demand and more expensive than the other varieties, owing to its stronger aroma and flavor.
- Ginger ale originated from ginger beer, a non-alcoholic beverage that was brewed by the English and American colonists as a cure for nausea and vomiting.
- Candied ginger is a sweet treat made from boiling ginger in sugar syrup until soft.
- The very first gingerbread was consumed by the ancient Greeks, who ate ginger wrapped in bread to ease stomach problems. Later, they found ways to incorporate ginger into the dough and make it more delicious.
- In Ayurveda, ginger is considered as a universal medicine that can cure various ailments, including indigestion, loss of appetite, motion sickness and joint pain. Ginger is also recommended for better nutrient absorption and waste elimination.
- For practitioners of Chinese traditional medicine, ginger is “yang,” or hot food, which is characterized as warm and contracting. When Chinese sailors embarked on long sea voyages long ago, they chewed on ginger to fight off seasickness. The spice was also used to combat the effects of shellfish poisoning, which could explain why ginger is a star ingredient in many Chinese seafood dishes even today.
- Ginger oil, which is extracted from fresh ginger via steam distillation, is known for its anti-inflammatory and stimulating properties. When applied topically, it can help relieve pain and promote blood circulation. Since ginger oil can be quite expensive, you can make your own ginger-infused oil by mixing chopped or grated ginger with olive oil and heating the mixture for several hours.