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Ginger Shaped Like Deer Antlers

Monday 25th June 2007

Ginger Shaped Like Deer Antlers

The word ‘ginger’ comes from the Latin ‘zinziberi,’ which in turn comes from the ancient Sanskrit ‘srngaveram,’ meaning ‘antlers.’ Native to southeastern Asia, ginger has been renowned for millennia throughout the world. Ginger is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings, and has long been prized for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties. After the ancient Romans imported ginger from China almost two thousand years ago, its popularity in Europe remained centered in the Mediterranean region until the Middle Ages when its use spread throughout other countries. During the Middle Ages in England, ginger was valued on par with black pepper. A pound of either was worth the price of one sheep. In the 1800's English taverns began keeping ground ginger at the bar for patrons to sprinkle onto their beer - which is the basis of the popularity of ginger beer and ginger ale around the world today.
In a distinctly Canadian connection, John McLaughlin invented the modern ‘Canada Dry’ version of ginger ale in 1907. John McLaughlin graduated from the University of Toronto in 1885 with a Gold Medal in Pharmacy. Each bottle of ‘Canada Dry - The Champagne Of Ginger Ales’ had a map of Canada and a picture of a beaver on the label.
Few know that ginger root is a rhizome and not a root. It is essentially an underground stem with buds and nodes which doesn't die. Sweet and hot at the same time, it adds a wonderful comforting and florid flavour to many soups, stews, curries, stir-fries, salad dressings, fruit desserts and some cookies and cakes. Ginger is essential in curries. You can make a quick dressing by combining ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and olive oil. It is excellent in miso soups, or pickled and eaten cold with sushi. Ginger combines particularly well with beets, carrots, green beans, and various Chinese vegetables.
To remove ginger skin, peel with a paring knife. The ginger can then be sliced, minced or julienned. The taste that ginger imparts to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will lend a subtler flavor while added near the end, it will deliver a more pungent taste.
Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled. Stored unpeeled in the freezer, it will keep for six months.
Ginger contains high amounts of iron and calcium, in addition to its major constituents - gingerol and paradol. gingerol is a powerful antioxidant - clearing up the free radicals that can do so much harm within the body - and it is anti-inflammatory.
Recent studies to test the validity of medicinal claims have proved positive in a number of areas. In particular, ginger has been found to have the ability to stop nausea and vomiting, prevent coronary artery disease, and heal (and prevent) arthritic conditions and stomach ulcers. Ginger was also shown to be effective against tumour growth, migraines and rheumatism.

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