Usually, ginger comes to most kitchens as a brown knobby root, but it is also available in other forms. There are now several forms of ginger: powdered, ground, dried, or candied (crystallized). Today, your need for and your use of the many benefits of ginger can determine the package you take home.
In this unadulterated form, ginger has a sweet heat that lends itself well to countless dishes. It is good for curries, and it helps curb any excessive greasy taste that can come with sautéed meats. Countless Asian dishes are cooked with ginger. Along with onions and garlic, some stir fried vegetables have a sliver or two of ginger, especially if these are cooked Sze Chuan style.
In old, traditional communities, ginger is wrapped in cloth and pinned onto children’s clothes to ward off the evil eye. Though most people no longer subscribe to this idea, fresh ginger holds its own as an important ingredient for cooking, for preparations made to address colds, stomach problems, and a host of ailments. In this fresh form, it contains an oily resin that can be topically applied to cure certain skin conditions.
Dried ginger loses much of its gingerols, the compounds that are responsible for the root’s anti-inflammatory action. However, the drying process increases the herb’s shogaols and, like its fresh counterpart, the dried root is considered a good treatment for nausea, motion sickness, colds, and gastrointestinal problems. In addition to these, natural health practitioners believe that ginger, whether fresh or dry, can help prevent the growth of colorectal and ovarian cancer cells.
The advantage of using dried ginger is that it is lighter and more compact. Although in this form, ginger loses some of its aromatic property, it can still be used as an ingredient for cooking and for home remedies. When traveling, dried ginger is a more convenient form to carry.
If you want to have some dried ginger in stock, it would be best to dry your own. Assuming you use organically grown ginger, this will ensure that your supply has not been subjected to irradiation.
When dried ginger is powdered or ground, it undergoes some changes. The process decreases the root’s gingerols, the compounds that provide the many healing benefits of ginger. However, on the plus side, powdered ginger has more shogaols, and these can hold their own in the healing department. Shogoals have antioxidant properties, and they help address vomiting, nausea, inflammation, menstrual cramps, and arthritis. These compounds are also believed to inhibit a certain enzyme responsible for the growth of cancer tumors.
Convenience is probably the main reason for choosing the powdered or ground form of Zingiber officinale. With a teaspoon or a dash from your packet, without much ado you can have ginger in your tea, your soup or your poultice. The powdered version is an easy way to spice up your gingerbread and your gingersnaps.
Ginger also comes in candy form, and this is the best way to have your supply of ginger handy even when you are traveling and can’t keep drinking ginger tea or ginger juice. Many groceries have this in stock, but if finding some is difficult for you, just go ahead and make your own. That way, you can have your gingerols and your shogaols as a dessert or as a lozenge. As they say, have ginger will travel!!!