Country of Origin: India
Ginger comes from the perennial flowering plant Zingiber officinale from the family Zingiberaceae. Ginger is harvested for its rhizomes to be consumed fresh or dried. The plant was native to the Southeast Asia from where it was introduced to the Pacific Islands and Hawaii by the Austronesian voyagers. Later ginger was brought to South India from where it traveled to Europe through the spice trade routes along with cardamom, pepper, cloves and other spices that were cultivated in the area. The long journey made it impossible for the ginger to reach the Middle East and the Mediterranean area in fresh form, so it was traded dried. Today, the largest exporter of ginger is India, followed by Indonesia, China and Nigeria.
Ginger rhizome is highly aromatic and refreshingly hot when it is consumed fresh. Dried ginger is also rich in aromas although less that the fresh rhizome. Dried ginger maintains its sweet and lemony notes even when ground, and it will keep its pungency for up to 2 years, when properly stored in an airtight jar.
Ground dried ginger is found as an ingredient in various Asian spice blends and Indian masalas for meat and vegetable recipes or as a marinade. Also in France, it is used for the quatre épices blend of 4 spices, with ginger, nutmeg, cloves and white pepper, used to season pork recipes such as sausages, terrines and slow-braised pork. Ginger powder is also widely used in baking, for cakes, cookies, gingerbread and Christmas cookies. Ginger pairs well with fruit and it can be added in fruit desserts such as fruit pies and fruit tarts.