The ginger root has knotty finger-like projections with a rough silverfish-brown outer surface. Ginger is firm in texture and its flesh can be yellow, white or red in colour. The older the ginger is, the thicker its skin.
Ginger has always been known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-flatulent properties. Zingerone, a chemical compound present in ginger, is effective in keeping the body immune from E.coli bacteria that might cause diarrhoea. Furthermore, the root also contains potassium which is an important regulator of heart rate and blood pressure. Ginger also contains many antioxidants in its gingerol compounds that help to ease the pain of people experiencing muscular discomfort or arthritis.
Ginger is often used as a spice to add an extra punch to food. With fruit juices, a little bit of ginger can be added to make a tangy taste. For example, when ginger is added to apple or orange juice, a new dimension of taste can be presented. Lemonade can also do with some added ginger. As a topping, ginger can also be added to rice or salad for an added spice. Ginger can also be grated and added to the stuffing for apple pies. In savoury food, ginger is often grated and added to stir fries or curries.
Ginger is usually available as a whole raw root, ground spice or in various other forms suitable for different uses. The raw root is often used to be grated and added to juices or savoury foods. Ground ginger is most optimal for baking. Ginger is also available candied, crystallised, pickled or preserved in syrup. Fresh, raw ginger is often believed to be of higher quality because it contains higher concentrations of gingerol. When selecting whole raw ginger, it should be plump and should not be injured or blemished. Wrinkly roots should be avoided because they are often less tender and very fibrous. Often, ginger roots can be knobbly and thus, hard to deal with. Ginger roots should feel heavy for their size. It is often recommended that one select Jamaican or Kenyan ginger which is believed to be of top quality.
Fresh and whole ginger root can often be kept for up to two weeks if refrigerated in a perforated bag. As for ground ginger, the shelf life is 6 months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place.