Ginger (Zingiber officinale), a native to the hot tropics of South East Asia grows well in many parts of Australia. In mild to hot climates it is an obvious plant to include in any herb or cottage garden.
Ginger is a perennial with a similar growth habit as a canna lily. It develops 60 cm high leaf stalks (some varieties taller) in spring, then dies back in autumn. The plant grows to 1m metre or so tall and rarely flowers in cultivation. It is easily propagated by dividing the clumps, or even just planting a section of uncooked rhizome bought from a fruit shop.
Ginger ideally requires fertile soils, part shade, good drainage and ample moisture. It needs shelter from cold or strong winds, and in very hot periods may prefer some shade. It will grow in containers but is more productive in the ground.
Ginger root is harvested when ripe, washed, boiled, peeled, and dried in the sun then powdered. For candied ginger, green or young rhizomes are harvested. Fresh ginger can be kept for several months by wrapping in a tea towel then placing in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Ginger is used both in cooking and as a medicine. Sliced, fresh ginger is commonly added to Asian stir fry dishes. Vary the amount according to how strong you require the taste. Powdered, dried ginger is used as a spice to flavour a wide variety of foods.
Ginger taken fresh or as tablets is one of the best ways to settle an upset stomach. Tablets are commonly sold in health food shops and chemists as a remedy for motion sickness, upset stomachs or to aid digestion.
How to Make Crystalized Ginger
Cover 2 cups of sliced and peeled ginger with water in saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for, about 20 minutes until tender, then add half cup of sugar, stir and return to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.
The next day bring to boil again, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add half a sliced lemon and 1 cup of corn syrup, then simmer uncovered for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover and let stand overnight.
The following day bring to boil again, stirring as the mixture heats. Add half cup of sugar and bring to the boil while stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in a final half a cup of sugar and bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover, let stand overnight.
Boil the mixture a fourth time the next morning. When syrup drops from a spoon in large globules, and ginger is translucent; remove from heat and drain. Save syrup for future use as a sauce. Dry ginger on a rack overnight. When dried, roll ginger in granulated sugar and store in a tight jar.
Soak meat in a shallow dish of either white wine or even water with grated or sliced ginger added. Leave for 8 24 hrs in the refrigerator before removing the meat and cooking.
Half cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger root
Half cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Cream butter and brown sugar.
Beat in egg and molasses.
Sift in dry ingredients and stir until well blended.
Add fresh and crystallized ginger.
Chill dough until stiff enough to handle.
Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and bake at 180 degrees C for 10 mins.
Makes 4 dozen biscuits.