Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Fresh Baby Ginger!

by Sarah Janes Ugoretz

Ginger Growing in the Greenhouse
The wait is over. Baby ginger is here! A member of the Zingiberaceae family, ginger is often referred to as a root, but it is technically a rhizome. This knotted, thick rhizome forms underground, growing downward from the surface, while its narrow, green, flowering stem extends up to 36 inches above ground.

We start the ginger in the greenhouse in either late February or early March.  It takes about 6 weeks just to start sprouting the seed pieces.  We transplant it into our cold frame greenhouse in June.  This location allows us to get more heat gain to give ginger the more consistent, warm climate it requires.  Even then, we will never reach the full potential of the plant before winter sets in, hence our ginger is called “baby” ginger.

Fresh Baby Ginger!
Ginger’s presence has been documented in Asian artifacts dating back 4400 years. Today, its uses fall primarily into the culinary realm, though it is also widely recognized for its herbal medicinal properties. In the kitchen, ginger is a highly versatile ingredient, easily incorporated into sweet and savory dishes alike, from breads and muffins to curries and soups. As a tonic, combine ginger with lemon, honey (and brandy, if you feel so inclined), and enjoy its warm, healing properties. Ginger is often recommended to help alleviate the common cold, as well as a host of other ailments.

There are a few key ways in which baby ginger differs from what you’re most likely used to working with. Texture-wise, baby ginger’s flesh is much more tender and juicy.  You’ll notice the skin is very thin with a pinkish hue.  In its fresh state, you don’t really need to peel baby ginger.  If left on your counter, your baby ginger will slowly develop a traditional thicker, grayish-brown skin.  

Harvesting Ginger
In terms of storage, baby ginger can hang out on your counter for up to one week. We recommend using the stems right away, however. Feature them as stir sticks in fancy cocktails, where they’ll also work to infuse their host liquid. For refrigerator storage, wrap your ginger in a paper towel and stash in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer. For storage that exceeds 1-2 weeks, you can preserve ginger by freezing it.  You can mince or dice the ginger and freeze it in small quantities or you can freeze it in whole pieces.  Simply clean the ginger to remove any dirt, and then cut it into pieces that you would consider to be the amount you might use at one time.  Put them in a freezer bag and freeze until you are ready to use it.  When you are ready to use it, remove a piece from the freezer and let it rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before you cut it.  In general, proper storage ensures you’re able to preserve both the potency and the incomparable flavor of your ginger. Enjoy!

Golden Milk

Yield:  2 cups
1 ½ -inch knob fresh baby ginger
One 1-inch knob fresh turmeric or 2 tsp
 powdered turmeric
2 tsp ghee
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
1 Tbsp honey, or to taste

  1. Grate the ginger and turmeric (if using fresh) into a mortar or a bowl.  If using dried turmeric, add it to the bowl along with the ginger.  Spoon the ghee into the mortar or bowl and grind the ghee into the turmeric and ginger with your pestle or the back of a spoon until they form a fine paste.  
  2. Pour the coconut milk and coconut water into a saucepan, and spoon in the paste made with the turmeric, ginger and ghee.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and warm the ingredients together until little bubbles just begin to creep up the sides of the pot.  Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan, allowing the turmeric and ginger to steep about 3 minutes.  Strain the golden milk through a fine-mesh strainer into a tea pot or clean saucepan.  Stir in the honey and continue stirring until it dissolves.  Serve warm.

This recipe is borrowed from Jennifer McGruther.  She featured it on her blog, Nourished Kitchen
(  We enjoy this warm & tasty beverage in the winter months to ward off colds and illness.

Steamed Broccoli with Soy & Ginger

Yield:  4 servings
1 large head of broccoli (approximately 1-1.25#)
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
Juice of 1-2 limes
A Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger

  1. Remove the florets of broccoli from the stem, staying as close to the stalk as possible.  By doing this you’ll be left with lovely small florets of broccoli and the stalk.  You don’t want to throw the stalk away as it’s absolutely delicious to eat, so peel it using a peeler then cut it in half and finely slice it up.  It will now cook at the same time as your florets.  Feel free to either steam or boil the florets and stalk;  just cook them so they’re soft enough but not overdone and mushy.
  2. While the broccoli is cooking, toast and toss your sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden.  Remove them from the pan and then put them to one side.  Add 3 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan, heat it up and slowly fry your garlic until golden and crisp;  like mini crisps.  I find that if I angle my pan so that the oil pools in one side, the garlic will fry really nicely.  Make sure you don’t let it burn as it will taste bitter.  When done, remove the garlic chips with a slotted spoon and put them next to the sesame seeds. 
  3. Now, instead of giving yourself another bowl to wash up, make your dressing in the pan—you don’t need the heat on, so turn it off and let the pan cool down a little. You only need to use about 2 Tbsp of the garlicky oil, so discard any extra, then add the soy sauce and sesame oil to the pan and swirl it around.  Add the juice from one of your limes, then grate your ginger with a fine grater.  At this point taste it—you should have a balance of nuttiness, saltiness and a lovely zing from the lime.  If it needs more soy sauce, olive oil or lime juice for perfect harmony then feel free to adjust to your taste.
  4. Serve the steaming broccoli in a bowl drizzled with your dressing (which you’ll need to keep shaking in the pan before serving so it doesn’t divide), and sprinkle with the garlic chips and sesame seeds—gorgeous!

The voice of this recipe is Chef Jamie Oliver.  He featured this recipe in his cookbook, Cook with Jamie:  My Guide to Making You a Better Cook.

1 comment:

NotThatKindOfFarmer said...

Very nice article,
Thanks for sharing this information with us.