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Cooking with Ginger

Not a spice to slip in unobtrusively, ginger always makes a grand appearance in a range of dishes. Warm yet refreshing, versatile yet distinctive, ginger’s enigmatic character often enlivens the mix — in a gamut of sweet and savory recipes and in many ethnic cuisines.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) mingles well with other spices, too, like coriander, cumin, garlic, turmeric and mustard in savory dishes, and cinnamon and cloves in sweet recipes. Try it in cakes, biscuits, breads, cookies, fruit salads, cooked fruits, puddings, preserves, jams and drinks; and with poultry, fish, tempeh, tofu, carrots, beets, squash and sweet potatoes.

The Many Forms of Ginger

Crystallized ginger has been cooked in a sugar syrup, then air dried and rolled in sugar. It makes a great after-dinner treat -- especially dipped in chocolate. Also try it in fruit salads and dressings, or as a sparkling addition to holiday treats. Look for crystallized ginger that still has its sugary coating and that isn’t hard or stuck together.

Ginger root powder is a lovely off-white to light brown spice, ground from the dried ginger root. It’s a convenient form for baked foods, sauces, curries, and chutneys, and for sprinkling on applesauce and other cooked fruit and vegetable dishes.

Ginger root whole (fresh or dried) is light tan with knobby, finger-like branches. It’s not really a root, but actually a fleshy rhizome. Fresh ginger is delightful, but the dried root keeps much longer and is especially handy if you don’t get to the market to restock frequently.

Ginger root cut is a great way to keep ginger on hand for tea. Simply put a teaspoon or more in a tea strainer or muslin tea bag for each cup of water. Cut ginger is also a nice addition to potpourris.

Tips:

To compliment your fall harvest, stock up on your favorite spices from Frontier Natural Products Co-op -- and perhaps a few new finds. Warming spices (allspice, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg) are especially appropriate for the change in temperature, but any spice can find a good harvest partner. Try the unexpected:

If your recipe calls for fresh ginger, but you only have powdered ginger on hand, use 1/8 teaspoon of ginger powder per tablespoon of fresh ginger. Of course, you won’t have the pieces of ginger in your dish, but the aroma and taste will fill in nicely. You can also substitute whole dried ginger directly for whole fresh ginger in recipes. (Some cooks like to add a spritz of lemon juice to the dried ginger when they cut it, to moisten.) And, if you have only crystallized ginger on hand, you can rinse off the sugar and finely cut it, then substitute it one for one for fresh ginger.

Recipe: Ginger Dressing/Marmalade

Use this mixture on green salads — or as a marinade for poultry, fish, or tofu.

Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon ginger root powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions
Blend all ingredients until well mixed.

Nutrition Facts
As prepared, each serving contains 180 calories, 19g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 115mg sodium, 1g total carbohydrate and 1g protein.

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