If you love the flavor of ginger, but find it difficult to get hold of fresh ginger, you should keep dried ginger root at hand. Ginger has many health benefits and adds spice, pungency and aroma to the foods it is added to. It has a warm and somewhat peppery flavor with notes of lemon. While fresh ginger is used in many cuisines and foods, dried ginger is not a laggard. It is easier to store, takes up less space and has a long shelf life. Ginger is extremely versatile since it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
You must be familiar with the flavor of ginger ale or ginger beer (with some alcohol content) that is now available with different additions and flavors. It is often used as a mixer for soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, testifying to the versatility of ginger pairing with sweet. And then there are candied ginger and even ginger chocolates.
What are the Health Benefits of Ginger?
Dried ginger root was part of the ancient spice trade from India and Asian countries. Ginger is famous for its many medicinal in ancient cultures like Indian, Chinese and other south and far eastern Asian countries. It is also used in Africa, Middle East and Russia. It has become increasingly favored in western countries like the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany and others. Ginger root is popularly used in supplements thanks to its many health benefits, particularly by people who find it too spicy for their palates.
Ginger has many compounds and oils like as gingerol, shogaol, farnesene, zingerone, B-phelladrene, cineol and citral that give this rhizome its unique flavors and health-giving properties. Health benefits include:
- Better immunity against respiratory problems – compounds in ginger help ward off viruses that cause colds and coughs.
- Improved digestion – the oils in this spice stimulate acid production in the stomach and also reduce flatulence.
- Better metabolism – when your body has a high metabolic rate, you will be able to lose weight or at least not put on excess weight. Ginger has thermogenic properties that boost metabolism.
- Anti-emetic and nausea properties – this spice has been in use for reducing nausea caused by poor eating habits, morning sickness, motion sickness or even chemotherapy.
- Anti-inflammatory against joint pains caused by rheumatism and arthritis – anti-oxidants in ginger fight free radicals that cause inflammation.
- Reducing period pain – using ginger powder in beverages or foods can help reduce period pain thanks to its analgesic properties.
- Balances blood sugar, so helpful to diabetics – phenolic compounds in ginger may reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Protection against ovarian, pancreatic and breast cancers – ginger reduces oxidative stress in the body. This kind of stress is often responsible for cancers.
Apart from all these benefits, ginger also improves cholesterol levels, helps with heart health and improves cognitive functions.
With so many possible health benefits, using more ginger in your diet is a good idea.
Using Dried Ginger Root
Dried ginger root does not have the same taste and flavor as fresh ginger. But you can use it in shreds or Julienne's in many dishes that call for fresh ginger, if you do not have fresh ginger. It is important that the ginger is added initially in the cooking process so that it absorbs liquid and its flavors also blend with the dishes and add complexity.
It can be added to beans and lentils, soups and stews, casseroles and hotpots, stewed fruits and fruit or spicy cakes and cookies (if called for). If your dish is quite dry, it is best to rehydrate the dried ginger in hot water before using. You can even add dry ginger to tea and coffee and other beverages where it will spike the flavor and give the beverage a spicy kick. Hot beverages containing ginger are specially favored in respiratory ailments, as pain-killers and for their anti-nausea properties.
What else can you do with Dried Ginger Root?
This dry spice can be powdered and stored. You can use it in dishes that contain curry powder or garam masala, it can be added on its own to spicy and fruity cakes, cookies and bread, Indian sweetmeats, chutneys and salsas, teas and other beverages. Substitute ¼ teaspoon dry ginger powder for 1 tablespoon shredded or grated fresh ginger. If using dry powder, you can add it towards the end of the cooking process.
Just keep in mind, that unlike the dry root, ginger powder will lose its flavor and aroma, so you may need to use more of it, if it has been lying around for long. It is best stored in an air-tight container and bought in small quantities so that you use and replenish it quickly. It goes without saying that buying organic dried ginger root or ginger powder is better for you, particularly if you that the ginger you use is of good quality and you are looking for health benefits from this spice.
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