At first consideration, you might think growing ginger would be a neat thing to do. It’s different, after all—there are probably not a whole lot of people in your area growing it, unless you live in Hawaii. When you really put some thought into it, though, growing ginger is not just different, but it’s smart, too.
If you like the taste of ginger, you’ll realize there’s no boundary to the dishes this Asia-native rhizome can improve. And if you follow herbal-medicinal practices, you probably already know that ginger is said to be beneficial in treating nausea, motion sickness and arthritis. (The University of Maryland offers advice on medicinal dosage and cautions to not give ginger to children younger than 2 years old.)
If you can’t grow ginger year-round, freeze it at harvest time! The rhizome freezes well in a sealed plastic bag and is actually easier to grate when it’s frozen than when it’s fresh.
Here are 13 ways you might try using your ginger.
1. As Tea
Whether you put stock in the herbal-medicine benefits of ginger or not, a warm cup of ginger tea can brighten a dreary day, and an iced ginger tea is a refreshing summertime beverage. Slice a piece of ginger, put it in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the stronger the flavor. Likewise, you can leave the ginger in the water after you remove it from the heat to continue to extract more flavor. Put in a green tea bag; a sprig of sage, holy basil or thyme; a cinnamon stick; or an apple slice after simmering to add another flavor to the tea. The ginger comes through strong and spicy, so you might like your tea sweetened with honey. You can also dilute the tea with more water if the flavor is too strong.
2. For Juicing
You probably don’t want to do a shot of ginger juice on its own—but good for you if you can handle it—rather it makes a nice, spicy addition to your regular juicing routine. One Hobby Farms-tested combo is this Asian Pear Apple Ginger Juice.
3. Ginger-Flavored Sugar
You’ll feel super fancy when you can offer guests ginger sugar to put in their tea or to rim their margarita glass. You need about 1 cup of sugar per 1-inch piece of ginger. Peel and cut up the ginger, put it in a food processor with the sugar, and blend it together. Spread it out on a baking sheet to dry for a few days, mixing it now and then—ginger is quite moist—and then keep it in a sealed container.
4. Candied Ginger
You’ll be invited to every holiday party if friends find out you’re bringing homemade candied ginger as a gift for the host. This process takes some time—and lots of sugar—but it’s a fun way to preserve your ginger, and you get the awesome byproduct of ginger simple syrup, which really is the whole reason you should be candying your ginger to begin with—use it to flavor cocktails, top homemade ice cream or flavor a glaze for baking. Search online for a candied-ginger recipe that suits you.
5. In Pumpkin Pie (And It’s Topping)
You might fancy yourself a good pumpkin-pie maker already, but at least once, try adding some fresh, grated ginger to that bad boy. It’s pretty simple: Mix 3 tablespoons of ginger into your favorite pumpkin-pie recipe. Then go ahead and outdo yourself with a ginger whipped cream using ginger sugar or ginger simple syrup (both above) as your sweetener.
6. In Salad
Grate up some ginger along with your carrots and kohlrabi, toss all of that with lemon juice and a tiny bit of salt, and serve it over a bed of lettuce.
7. In Stir-Fries, Curries And Satays
Having been used in Asia for thousands of years, fresh ginger a stir-fry or curry dish that much better. Use it to taste. Start by grating a small amount before going overboard. The ginger should blend with the other flavors—like it does in this Siam Curry and Ginger Barbecue Chicken Satay. Don’t let it take over the dish entirely.
8. In Baked Goods
Step away from the powdered ginger. In any recipe that calls for powdered ginger, substitute grated fresh ginger. Use 1 teaspoon grated for every 1/4 teaspoon powdered. Your gingerbread will never be the same!
9. In Salad Dressing
You know that really good ginger dressing served at Japanese restaurants? There’s no reason you can’t do that yourself at home. Combine grated ginger, minced garlic, sesame oil, olive oil and soy sauce in a mason jar, and give it a shake.
10. In Ferments
Lacto-fermented sauerkrauts, kombucha and jun are healthful fermented foods that can each benefit from an infusion of ginger flavors. Try cabbage-beet-ginger sauerkraut or cabbage-cilantro-ginger sauerkraut, and put ginger pieces or ginger simple syrup in your second-ferment kombucha or jun.
11. To Infuse Liqueurs
You can infuse just about any flavor into a liqueur. Liqueurs and alcoholic bases with lighter flavors to begin with—such as vodka or grain alcohol—will allow ginger’s flavor to come through best, but even whiskey, bourbon or rum can take on a ginger tang when you allow ginger pieces to soak in the bottle.
12. In Butter
This headline might have made you do a double-take. Yes, ginger butter might be your new go-to for cooking fish and vegetables. Try this recipe for Ginger Sesame Butter.
13. In Carbonated Beverages
Alcoholic and nonalcoholic ginger beers are big hits across the country and around the world. Also, you might have heard of a drink called ginger ale—this is the very same ginger. HobbyFarms.com has a twist on the classic soda in this recipe for Pear Ginger Soda.
With these 13-plus uses for ginger, you might have to grow more next year. Share in the comments below your favorite uses that are missing from this list!
About the Author: Freelance writer Lisa Munniksma works on a farm that grows organic baby ginger and has personally made 90 percent of the items on this list. Follow her weekly ag-news and -opinion blog “The News Hog,” and her occasional writing about farming and traveling around the world at Freelance Farmer Chick.