Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It has an unmistakable shape - bulbous little joints, from which grow small, knobbly bumps, and its skin is light brown with a slight silvery quality. The flesh can range from ivory through to a pale, greeny yellow.
Ginger has a peppery flavour, with a sweet hint of lemon, and the aroma is pungent and sharp. It's also available ground, which is particularly good for baking; pickled; preserved in syrup (also called stem ginger); candied; or crystallised.
For more information on ginger see ingredient focus... ginger.
All year round.
Choose the best
Go for plump, unblemished roots. Avoid wrinkled roots, as they're likely to be tough and fibrous. If possible, avoid any that are very knobbly, as they'll be harder work to peel. Roots should also feel heavy for their size.
Jamican and Kenyan ginger is thought to be the best.
Snap off a knob of ginger of the size you need then, using a small, sharp knive, peel away the skin, removing only a thin layer of the flesh beneath. Then grate, slice, cut into batons or crush.
Fresh ginger will keep for around 2 weeks in a perforated bag stored in the fridge. The ground variety should keep for around 6 months if stored in a small, airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Add raw ginger to stir-fries or curries; use in marinades; grate to make tea. Dried ginger works well in puddings, flapjacks and fruit cakes or stewed fruits, particularly apple.