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The Special Nature of Ginger & Turmeric

If you like the taste of ginger and turmeric, you’ll realize there’s no boundary to the dishes these Asia-native rhizomes can improve.

If we all lived in Hawaii and you were reading this as part of your interest in the foods your Hawaiian farmers are growing for you, we probably wouldn’t make such a big deal out of the baby ginger and baby turmeric available to you. We’re not in Hawaii, though. We’re in Kentucky, with a decidedly non-tropical growing climate, and for a short period of time, you can access these tropical foods grown right here. So we’re making a big deal out of them!

Ginger and turmeric are versatile, flavorful and healthful rhizomes with beautiful, exotic foliage. Their full growing season is 10 months, though even in the greenhouse, the best we can do is six months, which is how you end up with baby ginger and turmeric. In this earlier stage of maturity, baby ginger and turmeric have the same flavor and texture as their mature counterparts, minus the rough skin.

Growing Ginger & Turmeric

We start ginger and turmeric from rhizome seed pieces that we receive from an organic farm in Hawaii. They spend a month or so sprouting, and then we plant them in the greenhouse in late spring. This provides a more humid, tropical environment than planting in the open field. 

As the ginger plants grow, we mound soil over the base about every four to six weeks to encourage the rhizomes to grow up as well as across. Ginger and turmeric like consistent (but not heavy) watering—particularly later in its growth, when both the foliage and the rhizome are growing.

The greenhouse turns into a tropical wonderland. The plants give off faint ginger and turmeric scents when they’re brushed up against, and their 3-foot-tall foliage is a delight. 

Using Ginger & Turmeric

If you like the taste of ginger and turmeric, you’ll realize there’s no boundary to the dishes these Asia-native rhizomes 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 and that turmeric may help relieve joint pain, indigestion and inflammation. (Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in any of this.)

Here is a roundup of ways you might use your ginger and turmeric:

As a hot drink: Whether or not you put stock in the herbal-medicine benefits of ginger and turmeric, a warm cup of ginger tea or a creamy golden latte can brighten a dreary day.

As a cold drink: An iced ginger tea is a refreshing summertime beverage. Add green tea for a kick of caffeine or an apple slice after simmering to bring another flavor to the tea. You might like these beverages sweetened with honey. 

In a juice or smoothie: You probably don’t want to do a shot of ginger juice on its own—but it’s good for you if you can handle it—rather ginger and turmeric both make nice, spicy additions to your regular juicing and smoothie routine. Mix ginger, turmeric, pear, apple and spinach for a sweet, spicy, healthful juice.

To flavor sugar: You’ll feel super fancy when you can offer guests ginger sugar for their tea or have some on hand to dust your holiday cookies. You need about 1 cup of sugar per 1-inch piece of baby ginger. 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—baby ginger is quite moist—and then keep it in a sealed container.

Candied: 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 baby 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.

In eggs: Turmeric is a lovely addition to egg dishes. Grate a little into your scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas for a new take.

In pumpkin pie: You might fancy yourself a good pumpkin-pie maker already, but at least once, try adding some fresh, grated ginger and turmeric. It’s pretty simple: Mix 2 tablespoons of ginger and 1 tablespoon of turmeric into your favorite pumpkin-pie recipe. 

In salad: Grate up some baby ginger and baby turmeric 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.

In stir-fries and curries: Having been used in Asia for thousands of years, fresh ginger and turmeric make a stir-fry or curry dish that much better. Use it to taste. Start by grating a small amount before going overboard; the flavors should blend with the other flavors rather than take over the dish entirely.

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. 

In salad dressing: Combine grated ginger, minced garlic, sesame oil, olive oil and soy sauce in a mason jar, and give it a shake for hibachi-restaurant-style salad dressing at home. Try adding turmeric to a yogurt-based salad dressing, too!

Freeze it for use later on: Both baby ginger and baby turmeric freeze beautifully. Pop it whole into a sealed bag in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, there’s no need to thaw and still no need to peel it: Just grate from frozen. 

With all these uses for baby ginger and baby turmeric, it’s time to place your order online. Share with us on Facebook your favorite uses that we missed in this list!

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