2023 Herb of the Year, Ginger
Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant whose rhizome (root) is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. It is a 2 – 4 feet tall perennial with grass like leaves and greenish-yellow flowers. Ginger is listed as an herb in many culinary recipes while others classify it as a spice. Some call dried ginger powder a spice while calling the fresh root version an herb. Native to parts of Asia, such as China, Japan, and India, it is a tropical plant and it’s fairly hard to grow in regions that are less humid and warm.
Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes in China for more than 2,500 years and it has had a prominent role in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese medicine since the 1500s. In Traditional Chinese Medicine ginger is considered a pungent, dry, warming herb for ailments triggered by cold damp weather.
In Western cuisine, ginger is mostly used in sweet applications such as ginger ale, gingerbread, and ginger snaps. It is one of the most used spices in the world and comes in numerous forms, including fresh, dried, pickled. preserved, crystallized, and ground. Fresh ginger root is typically light brown on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. Dried ginger has a fine texture and is light tan in color.