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Ginger, with historical name from 1807 of Zingiber officinale Roscoe, is a perennial herbaceous plant a little less than one meter high, of the family of Zingiberaceis. It is also well known as Ginger, from English, it has a stem formed by a rhizome that divides into branches and is underground, then stems emerge from it in the open air.
The part used, especially like medicinal, however, is the hidden one and that many, despite willingly taste it, still persist in calling it root when technically it is not. It is called the rhizome, as mentioned, and is the rich part of essential oil, gingerin, zingerone, resins and mucilages.
The ginger came to us from the Middle East, while veterans of the Asian campaigns of Alexander the Great. In fact, the first contact was in Greece and from there it gradually spread, in dust but not only, throughout the Mediterranean. Later, also in the rest of Europe.
As expected, therefore, the name also has origins in the Middle Indian language but traveling and becoming famous in various other countries, ginger has been renamed: in Arabic it is "Zangiabīl", For example, in French it is"Gingembre", in German "Ingwer"And in Chinese"Jiang 姜 ".
Ginger: how to grow it
Used to soils and climates such as those of his homeland, such as India and Malaysia, he is ginger loves tropical areas where he is comfortable. This means that to make it feel at home and cultivate it with good results, it is necessary to recreate the conditions of those climatic zones: high temperatures and high humidity.
It is not that impossible and let us not be discouraged: it is proven and confirmed by the facts that it is ginger it can also be grown here, in Europe, as well as overseas, both in the ground and in pots as long as it is rather large, only for the fact that the plant develops very horizontally.
To start cultivation just take the rhizome and plant it under the ground a few centimeters, then it must be watered sparingly but often, to create a sort of "humidity effect". In fact, nebulizing it is also fine. Still thinking of his homelands, we can imagine that low temperatures are not very good for our ginger garden, they can damage the plant.
More information on how to proceed in this DIY practice can be found in our two articles “Cultivation of ginger"And" How to cultivate potted ginger”, More specific, especially suitable for those who, even living in the city, perhaps want to try growing ginger on the balcony.
Ginger: how to use it
Focusing on the rhizome of the ginger, we begin to think that what it contains and for which we can exploit it are active ingredients such asessential oil, gingerols, resins and mucilages, shogaoli. The latter is responsible for the pungent flavor, which almost "pinches". However, the whole rhizome in general is responsible for that aroma that we all, or almost all, associate with ginger, whether it is used dried, is pulverized, or even fresh in thin slices, like lemon.
A less obvious way to use this plant, taking the wood, is to make it the support for skewers: in particular for fish ones, it is a winning choice to amaze your guests with that extra bit of mysterious flavor.
Fewer mysteries are hidden in the Japanese food where this plant is normally served in the form of pickle (sweet and sour pickle) with sashimi. Similarly in the various Indochinese cuisines we find it in soups and dishes with sauces and in the preparation of herbal teas: all "hot things" since with boiling this plant helps the coagulation of milk like other substances of animal and vegetable origin.
Liquid but not hot, soft drinks such as ginger ale and the ginger beer, and then let's find ginger also in desserts: in Modica chocolate and in the medieval Florentine pastry tradition. The Decameron even tells it, during the eighth day of Decameron.
If a recipe that tastes of ginger is to be chosen, it is gingerbread of course. Here the others Ginger recipes“, But this traditional food cannot fail to deserve the chapter. In addition to its spicy flavor, the gingerbread, said in English, it has a strong meaning linked to the holidays: it tastes of family, of celebration, of warmth, of hugs. A bit of a fireplace and presents to open. Can't you hear? I do.
The gingerbread in practice, for those who do not know it yet, a biscuit dough based on ginger with also cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. It is not among the most traditional Christmas sweets in Italy but it is still known, the countries that make it more room at the table are England, the United States and those of Northern Europe in general.
In our Western culture, which received ginger as a gift from the East, this plant is mainly used in powder form, often also reduced in capsules and sold in pharmacies, otherwise as a spice in the kitchen and as a flavoring in the preparation of liqueurs and soft drinks. First of all soft drinks the Ginger ale.
In general, powdered or not, it has stimulating properties for both digestion both for the peripheral circulationIt can also serve as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance. In the kitchen in particular, historically, it is said to help in the preservation and enhancement of the flavors of various foods. The magical and sophisticated action is also important antinausea, anti vomiting, if not antipyretic.
Going deeper into investigating the beneficial properties of this medicinal plant, and taking as its representative what is called the "Ginger from Jamaica“, We find that it is also a stimulant substance. There are those who also use it for dyspepsia and colic, and to reduce the effects of addiction and morphine withdrawal.
In experimenting with it in other situations, we are observing how this tasty element has the ability to decrease pain due to arthritis in the joints, but it is occurring better as well as for its anticoagulant properties and lower cholesterol.
That against diarrhea on the other hand, it is a confirmed effect of ginger and it is worth grating it a little everywhere if you suffer from it, when it can be used, with measure. And with this excellent and useful stainless steel grater, it can also be used for lemon, garlic and various citrus fruits.
You may also be interested in our article: Candied ginger: properties
Ginger in pregnancy
Being a very effective medicinal plant in the treatment of nausea, it ginger it is a weapon to be used in pregnancy, but it is also good if the nausea is caused by seasickness or chemotherapy treatments. These particular effects anti-nausea and anti-vomiting they are linked to the ethanolic and acetone extracts of the rhizome: they were administered to dog samples to see their validity as a remedy for the side effects of treatment with an anticancer drug.
Ginger: herbal tea
Not just in pregnancy, but in any situation, there is a way to assume it ginger and to benefit from its effects is to sip a “based on” herbal tea. To prepare an infusion, for example, 1 gram of dry rhizome, or 10 grams of fresh, put in a cup of boiling water. If we have it in powder, however, we can take about 1 gr and mix it, always in hot water, about a glass as a dose.
Folk medicine teaches as well as the ginger tea has always been a cure-all. Against colds, first of all, and the flu, but if you take three basil leaves on an empty stomach together with a piece of ginger, congestion can also be treated, insteadginger water, hot or cold it doesn't matter, it can avoid heat cramps. They use it like this in the United States.
Soft drinks like the ginger ale and the ginger beer they can be useful as "soothing the stomach" while in Burma ginger boiled with a local sweetener made from palm tree juice (Htan nyat), becomes a remedy for the flu. In Congo it is used "a bit for everything", in China, sliced and cooked in sweetened water, it is still a popular popular medicine for colds today.
Even in India, one of his homeland, people add it in both tea and dishes, in abundance, in Indonesia it is said to reduce tiredness and "the air" in the blood, as well as prevent rheumatism and control bad eating habits. The salabat finally, at breakfast, in the Philippines, it starts the day well and keeps sore throats away.
It seems to be fine everywhere and anyway, it does ginger, "Like parsley" we have seen it almost everywhere, while there are situations in which it is better to stay away. Despite being on the US FDA's list of "generically considered healthy" substances.
First of all, there are some medicines he doesn't get along with, and it is also not recommended for people who suffer from gallstones. The ginger unfortunately it can cause too allergic reactions with rashes, stomach pain, bloating, gas production. This happens especially if it is used in powder form, but there are problems even if, when fresh, it is not well chewed: it can cause intestinal blockage.
In consuming it ginger we take into account that it could affect blood pressure, coagulation and heart rhythm: it is better to ask our doctor for an opinion who, knowing our predispositions, can give us "permission".
Ginger: to know more
Here is a well-done book to find out more about the ginger, if you have been struck by this magical and oriental plant. I advise you to read it while sipping, while you're at it, an infusion right at the ginger: how about? The title is "Ginger. The miraculous spice that revitalizes and rejuvenates the body. History, properties, uses and recipes ”, costs just over 8 euros published by Punto di Incontro Editions. Happy reading and good appetite.
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