Ginger is a flowering plant whose root is used for culinary purpose. It’s mostly used as a spice and as a folk medicine in some culture. It’s one of the oldest spices to come from Asia to Europe and is been in use as such since the ancient times.
Most of the production isn’t based in the US but there are a few places that produce it right here and that sell to the local farmer’s market and to the restaurants and chefs directly.
- -it’s actually a rhizome
- You can grow your own from rhizomes bought at the store
- Ginger is a part of the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes turmeric and cardamom.
Ginger Buying Guide
The first thing to look for is the skin of the plant and you should look for the shiny and unblemished. It should also be thin and appear to be easy to slice of. Try to smell the ginger root yourself and it should feel pungent and spicy if it’s fresh.
Also, you should have in mind that there’s nothing wrong with taking just a piece of the knob that’s big enough and fresh enough for you.
Ginger Production & Farming in Texas
Ginger is grown in Texas and sold to local markets and restaurants. It can be grown if you select the proper soil and stick to the regime suited to the needs of the plant. It’s a smaller niche market but one that can be rather lucrative.
The plant requires a warm and humid climate. You should look for the site that provides enough direct sunlight, somewhere between two and five hours a day. The soil should loamy and rich in organic matter. You’ll need to use a thick layer of mulch.
The rhizome should be cut to the size of 1 to one and a half inches and set aside for a few days before planting. There should be noticeable growth buds on the each of the plants before you use them to plant a new crop. These could be bought from another grower at first and then you should grow your own.
The harvest can be done at any stage of maturity. They can be dug out of the ground entirely. Young ginger is usually sold to Asian markets since it’s a staple of their cuisine. The mature ones are sold everywhere else and that’s your main market.
There are plenty of different pesticides to be used on ginger. In some cases, these could even be harmful if the farmer doesn’t follow the rules set by the proper authorities.
The plant originated in the Island Southeastern Asia and it’s a cultigen meaning that it doesn’t exist in the wild as such. Ginger was carried on voyages as canoe plants during the Austronesian expansion, starting from around 5,000 BP. It was introduced to Pacific Islands in prehistory, long before any contact with other civilizations
It has found its way to European cuisine coming from India and from Europe it was transported to the US, where it has found its place in the local cuisine.
Ginger is usually packed in bags or in boxes. The bags are made out of jute fabric and they pack 35-60 kg each. The boxes are usually capable of packing 60 kg. Refrigerated containers with fresh air supply or open-sided containers with raised tarpaulins, which allow maximum ventilation, where external conditions allow.
There are many different ways to eat ginger. It’s mostly used as spice or it can be used to make tea. The spice works very well on fish because of how the tastes complement each other. It can also be used in stir fries where again its taste used to complement that of the meat and vegetables.
It’s also a rather common ingredient in soups where it provides a spicy and homey feeling. In the end, it’s a sweet vegetable and it can be a part of many desserts.
The ginger should be stored whole and unpeeled. It’s best to place them in a paper bag with all the air pushed out. The bag should then be held a crisper draw of the fridge. If the part of the plant has been cut you should also place a dry paper towel in the bag as well.
Here’s a simple recipe that utilizes ginger and tofu
Gently prick a few holes in the tofu with a toothpick (this will help the marinade to soak into it, giving better flavour), then cut into bite-size cubes.
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and toss in the tofu pieces. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 mins.
Heat a wok over high heat and add half the groundnut oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the ginger slices and stir-fry for a few secs. Add the pak choy leaves and stir-fry for 1-2 mins. Add a small splash of water to create some steam and cook for 2 mins more. When the leaves have wilted and the stems are cooked but still a little crunchy, season with salt and transfer to a serving dish.
Rinse the wok under cold water, then reheat it and add the remaining oil. When it starts to smoke, add the tofu pieces (retaining the marinade liquid) and stir-fry for 5-10 mins. Take care not to break up the tofu as you toss it to get it browned evenly on all sides. Season with the rice wine and rice vinegar. Add the remaining marinade liquid, bring to the bubble and let the liquid reduce. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and toss well. Spoon onto the pak choy and serve immediately with jasmine rice, if you like.