How Much Do You Know About Ginger Root?

Wake up your wintertime foods — and drinks! — with this warming rhizome

Ginger snaps, ginger crinkles, gingerbread: “Ginger” always seems to be a hot trend in our spice cabinets come the winter season. You may be familiar with the powdery, shelf-stable seasoning, but how much do you really know about the flavor in question?

Ground ginger is made from dried bulbs of ginger root, the knobby and gnarled base of a flowering plant hailing from tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Not a tuber, or an actual root for that matter, ginger root is something called a rhizome — a self-regenerating bulb that grows underground. Its flavor is slightly sweet, earthy, and definitely warming, while the aroma is spicy and sort of citrusy — a combination of which lends a peculiarly refreshing heat to both sweet and savory dishes and drinks.

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Despite its complex appearance, ginger is easy to work with. Choose a “hand” of the stuff with tan, smooth skin that’s relatively wrinkle-free. Peel the outer layer using a spoon or a small knife, then slice or grate the flesh and incorporate into your recipes to add a little something zesty. Try substituting fresh ginger for the powdered spice in your baked goods, using it alongside garlic in the base of a stir-fry, or muddled with vodka, soda water, and lime.

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