Ginger, a close relative and closely related to turmeric and cardamom, has a very distinctive spicy aroma. It is your cover letter. And this is mainly due to gingerol, a key compound of this plant that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It is not difficult to distinguish ginger because it has a very particular appearance: thick tubers, with asymmetrical shapes.
How to grow your own ginger at home
And taste does not overlook either: spicy, slightly sweet, with a strong aroma. It can be used in the kitchen in a number of ways: fresh, dried, pickled, canned, candied, and ground, the latter one of the most commonly found on supermarket spice shelves.
Ginger is not only used to flavor food, but it also carries thousands of years being used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of ailments. This is thanks to its interesting content in hundreds of compounds and metabolites.
The nine benefits of ginger
Ginger contains more of 400 different compounds, among which carbohydrates, lipids and phenolic compounds stand out. Its content of amino acids, fiber, proteins, phytosterols, vitamins and minerals is also interesting, as well as the presence of aromatic constituents, such as gingerols and shogaols, volatile essential oils that give it its characteristic smell and taste.
Like many other medicinal herbs, much of the information about ginger has been passed on by word of mouth, until recently with little scientific evidence to explain and support all of these claims. But in recent years the scientific activity around this plant has been increasing, until we now have specific information about ginger and its different components.
Scientific Supported Benefits
- Antioxidant– Ginger root contains high levels of antioxidants, second only to other foods such as pomegranate and some types of berries. It helps to reduce the activity of free radicals, therefore, it reduces cell damage and supports healthy aging.
- Anti-inflammatory: Ginger is also credited with the ability to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. There have been some studies that support the effectiveness of ginger to reduce pain and stiffness in patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Raw ginger is related to anti-inflammatory and inhibitory properties of pro-inflammatory cytokine production.
- Relief of mild nausea and vomiting– One of the most common uses is to relieve vomiting and nausea related to pregnancy, chemotherapy, and some types of surgery.
- Antibacterial properties– Ginger extract can inhibit the growth of some types of bacteria such as E.coli, Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Salmonella. It is also associated with effectiveness against oral bacteria that cause inflammatory diseases of the gums, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Pain relief: the tuber is rich in volatile oils that contain the active component gingerol. This anti-inflammatory compound is believed to be responsible for why people with rheumatoid arthritis feel some relief in their pain levels and improve their mobility with regular consumption of ginger.
- Helps gastrointestinal upsetThe most popular medicinal use of ginger is to treat a troubled stomach by improving gastric emptying which, in turn, helps control stomach pain, bloating and gas.
- Improves insulin resistance and speeds up metabolism: regular intake can lower blood sugar levels, although more human studies are needed to confirm these results.
- Anticancer activity: ginger has generated great interest in the possible therapeutic applications of this root and its components for the prevention of cancer. This capacity would be related to the presence of numerous dietary and medicinal phytochemicals. For example, the efficacy of ginger has been studied to prevent the growth of various types of cancer, such as lymphoma, colorectal, breast, skin, liver and bladder.
- Cardiovascular function: Ginger has also gained interest for its potential to treat various aspects of cardiovascular disease. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiplatelet and hypotensive effects of this condiment have been demonstrated in in vitro and animal data. But human trials are not yet conclusive.
Better fresh than dry
The bioactive compound, gingerdiol (similar to that in hot peppers, capsaicin), is the most abundant in ginger in its fresh form. Although it has not been shown that this compound is not affected by the heat of cooking, it is recommended to use it fresh to obtain more benefits.
When buying fresh ginger, the best option is to choose the one with smooth skin, without wrinkles. At home, it is preferable to store it in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer. It is important to peel the fresh ginger before consuming. Another option to get fresh ginger is to buy it ground.
How to grow your own ginger at home
Multiplying a piece of ginger on your floor is easier than you might believe. And now is as good a time as another to try. The first thing: choose a piece (root or rhizome) as fresh and large as you can. One trick is notice that it has “eyes”, that is, small pointed protrusions that appear and that is where the stems will emerge.
The more “eyes” your ginger has, the better; because it will grow faster, you will get more stems and more leaves (which will decorate your floor sooner and in a more exuberant way); And, what interests us now, before you will have your ginger ready to sink your teeth into it. [Si te gusta la cocina árabe, prueba a obtener tus propios limones fermentados, un modo sabroso de alargar su vida].
Plant each piece in a pot (you can make them at home with objects that you have left over), with an appropriate gardening soil, and gravel or rounded stones at the bottom so that it does not puddle. The size of the pot also matters: since it grows horizontally, the wider your pot, the more ginger you will eat. But don’t bury it too deep, a few inches are enough. AND water it very well with hot water.
Another trick: to keep the soil moist (keep in mind that it is a tropical species), at first you can cover the pot with a clear plastic bag. You will have a small home greenhouse; also free. And remember to water it often during its growing season.
If everything goes fine, in a few weeks, the first stems will appear. If you leave it in a bright place and a warm room, in a matter of months, your ginger will turn into a beautiful leafy and evergreen plant that can reach between half a meter and almost one meter. There’s more: its leaves will spread a fresh fragrance around your apartment.
Six to eight months later, you can collect the first pieces of fresh ginger. To do this, remove the plant from the pot, shake the soil, and clean the roots, which is what you want to eat. Do not forget to cut and save a piece of between two and seven inches to start another plant. [Aquí te contamos los trucos para empezar un pequeño huerto en la cocina de tu apartamento.]
To keep ginger root fresh, you can freeze it or put it in an airtight pan in the fridge. Or you can pat it dry and provide yourself with a dry spice to use year-round. To do this, clean your piece well, cut it into thin slices, and put them in a dehydrator to dry well.
You’ll know it when the slices are twisted. Once you have them, you can put them in a coffee grinder to crush it. Plant, eat and plant. You will have ginger eternally, fresh or powdered in your kitchen, and green in your living room. And all of this for free.
If you don’t want to miss any of our items, subscribe to our newsletters