Ginger: fun to plant, easy to cook

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Posted by Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

What lies beneath?

Yes, it's a "hand" of ginger -- from the supermarket -- that my friend Julia planted in her back yard. 

For all the ginger root I've cooked with over the years (and, by the way, we call it a root, though it's really a rhizome), I'd never thought to plant it. Leave it to Julia -- a chef by training, and a gardener by choice -- to think of this.

Buy an unwrinkled ginger rhizome at your local market; if you can find an organic one, that's best, but it's not necessary. Stick the whole thing into your garden, covered by a couple of inches of soil. Whenever you need ginger for a recipe, dig up the root, break off a piece, and replant.

Soon you'll see that your ginger has developed roots, and after that, green shoots (see the top photo) will emerge from the ground. As you can see in the bottom photo, the shoots will get quite tall, and indicate that there's a new knob, or "finger", of ginger forming.

Not only is this great fun, but you will have your choice of using the new ginger "finger" which is quite mild, or part of the original root, which is often more strong in flavor.

Be sure to dig up your root before the ground freezes. Next spring, buy a new "hand" of ginger, and start again!


Adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. Serves 8.

2 cups chopped onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cayenne, or more to taste
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
4 cups chopped sweet potatoes
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups V8 juice (or 1-1/2 cups tomato juice plus 1/2 cup water)
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup chopped scallions, chives or flat-leaf parsley

Saute the onions in the oil until just translucent. Stir in the cayenne and fresh ginger. Add the carrots and sauté a few more minutes. Mix in the potatoes and stock or water, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. With an immersion blender, if you have one, purée the vegetables with the cooking liquid and tomato juice. Return the purée to a soup pot. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Taste the soup. Its sweetness will depend on the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes. If it’s not there naturally, add just a tiny bit of sugar to enhance the other flavors. Reheat the soup gently, using a heat diffuser if needed to prevent scorching. Add more water, stock or tomato juice for a thinner soup. Serve topped with plenty of chopped scallions or chives.

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This Post was written by Lydia from The Perfect Pantry


Oh this couldn't have come at a more appropriate time! I got sticker shock when I saw $6.99/lb for ginger at the local Safeway. Are you kidding me?!

I have paid up to $3.49/lb for the convenience rather than having to drive out to the Indian store or the Asian store where I can get it for $1.49/lb. I swore - despite all that I say about how nothing grows in my yard - that I would grow ginger. I just didn't know whether sticking the rhizome into some soil would work. I am thinking of doing this in a container - that way I could bring it in once it gets cold. I could keep it going through winter that way, right? Or do you have any other suggestions?

Also, thank you for clarifying that it is *not* a root. It's one of my pet peeves!

Manisha said...
July 31, 2008 at 8:25:00 AM GMT+2  

Manisha, I've never tried it in a container, but I asked my friend about it. She said she's not had great success in a flower pot, but I'm wondering whether a larger box or something like that would work better. Please, do try it, and let me know. The other alternative is to grow it in the ground in summer, and then grate and freeze it for the winter.

July 31, 2008 at 2:23:00 PM GMT+2  

Lydia - that easy? I think I might be able to do this even with my brown thumb!!
Like Manisha I would like to try this out in a box or container so that in winter i can keep it going.

A very interesting article!

Meeta said...
August 1, 2008 at 8:13:00 AM GMT+2  

Lydia, thank you so much for that feedback. Last night I met someone from Massachusetts who told me she has had success with growing ginger in a pot. She said to use a large container and to ensure that the plant gets enough sunlight especially through winter. I just used up my last piece of ginger - it was either cook with it or stick it in a pot - and well, cooking won! As well though cos it had been refrigerated. The one at the Indian store is not. So come this Thursday when new stock arrives, I will be saving some to grow in a container.

Thank you so much for this article! It has given me the final push that I needed!

Manisha said...
August 4, 2008 at 3:57:00 AM GMT+2  

I never think it's this easy. I am going to surely try .But summer is going to fiinish very soon.Either I'll try it in a pot or tell my usual words . it's OK. Lemme do it next year

Laks said...
August 21, 2008 at 6:39:00 PM GMT+2  

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