Ginger, what a passion! History of a plant with thousand benefits and more
Ginger is loaded with healthy benefits. Besides being an antioxidant, it promotes weight loss and provides a tonic effect to your organism. Let’s discover properties, benefits and uses of ginger.
Closely related to cardamom (Remember? We told you about it a few articles ago), ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. Although its appearance does not make it the most beautiful plant in the botanical world, ginger is an increasingly popular source of well-being. From the Alps to the Pyramids, ginger is a gold mine of well-being, infused or in thin refreshing, dehydrated slices. Originally from South Asia and China, ginger was already used in Ancient Roma and considered a refined ingredient as well as pepper. Let’s discover together its history, properties and uses.
Ginger is a plant with renowned anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover it promotes digestion and is an excellent digestive after a particularly heavy lunch or as a relief for heartburn. Ginger also improves circulation, speeds up metabolism and so on and so forth.
How can you recognize it? From those typical lumpy rhizomes. The plant reaches up to one meter and a half in height, it can have sterile hollow stems with leaves or short stems with no leaves. It prefers tropical climates and fears the winter season. To those wondering how to grow ginger, the answer is simple: it takes a lot of patience. This plant needs warm climates (with a temperature of 15° at minimum), possibly in partial shade as it does not like direct sun. Characterized by a lemony and pungent flavor, the fresh roots of ginger are normally cut into slices and peeled or finely chopped.
The term ginger has ancient origins almost lost in the mists of time. Its name derives indeed from the Sanskrit srnagravera and the Arabic, zanjabil. In both languages the meaning is horn, maybe referring to the roots’ shape. Known and appreciated since the time of Confucius (5th century BC), ginger is reported to be present as an ingredient in various recipes, such as for the preparation of sauces and marinades in the ancient Rome of Apicius, a gourmet ahead of its time. Pythagoras counted it as an effective remedy for reptile bites, while Alexander the Great used it to season meat. In the Middle Ages, candied ginger was very popular in preparing desserts. Ginger had many lives: it was considered a recipe to cure the plague, then chosen as a gift for diners at the court of Elizabeth I, then again it became a real commodity marketed in the Middle Ages. In short, it has traveled history on people’s tables.
Properties and benefits
First of all, everybody knows ginger is very beneficial. Its functions are pretty flexible and suitable for the treatment of many ailments but undoubtedly the digestive function stands out among the benefits of ginger. When asked, who should avoid ginger, we answer: none. Ginger considerably reduces nausea due to pregnancy (which is a delicate moment) and motion sickness.In short, if you suffer from car sickness, a slice of ginger will save you. Eaten too much? Digestion will no longer be a problem; ditto heartburn or the unpleasant gastroesophageal reflux. Excellent remedy against winter colds, ginger also has an antipyretic action. But the benefits of ginger are not done yet: this plant is also useful to fight migraines and, in the spring season, it will become your natural antihistamine. Ginger is also known for its slimming properties which make it perfect for a natural detox. Least but not last: ginger is one of the ingredients of Remedium n. 3 – Digestive, an infusion of ginger, lemon, licorice, rosemary (and many more herbs and spices!) created to promote digestion after a hearty meal.
How to use it
If you don’t know how to use ginger in cooking, here are some tips for you. When it’s super-fresh (and peeled), ginger gives its best. You can use it to season meat or fish and to give a fresh hint to your recipes. Sliced or grated it is indeed a steady ingredient of Asian cuisine. Combined with herbs, it can be that little extra something you don’t expect for boiled meat. Or in desserts: gingerbread, those ginger-based crunchy cookies popular in Northern Europe, is an out-and-out homage to this spice.
To conclude, you may ask yourself how to store ginger: if it’s fresh, you can cover it with cling film and keep it in the fridge. If it’s powdered, keep it away from direct light sources in a cool, dry place.
Ever heard of Ginger ale? It is a carbonated soft drink flavoured with ginger, very popular among Brits. What if we told you ginger can also be an antibacterial for the oral cavity? Well yes: make a decoction with boiled ginger, let it cool and use it as a natural mouthwash.