While ⅛ to ½ a teaspoon of ground ginger can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, ground ginger and fresh ginger do not taste exactly the same, so it may be better to follow the recipe exactly. Other kinds of ginger, such as pickled ginger, crystallized ginger or preserved ginger all have distinct tastes as well, making substitutions difficult.
Ground vs. Fresh
Fresh ginger has a powerful aroma similar to camphor or cloves. Compared to other forms, fresh ginger has a more complex flavor. However, because cooking can remove essential oils, its taste may change in the oven.
Ground ginger may not have as nuanced a flavor as fresh ginger, but it has the benefit of a much longer shelf life and greater potency. Because of the latter trait, ground ginger can achieve the same effect as fresh ginger in a much smaller amount.
Selecting and Preparing Ginger
Most ginger sold at the grocery store is in its mature state and will serve your cooking needs. However, it’s sometimes possible to purchase young ginger as well. Although it doesn’t stay fresh as long, it doesn’t need to be peeled, has a less fibrous texture and pickles well.
In the store, look for ginger roots that are heavy, firm and free of wrinkles. Mature ginger lasts up to three weeks if left unskinned in the refrigerator. Dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark place away from moisture, where it can last for up to six months.
Ginger should be sliced with a thin spoon rather than a knife. This is to preserve the tenderest parts right beneath the skin.
Cooking with Ginger
- Stir fry and ramen
- Jams and chutneys
- Sauces and dressings
- Ice cream
Ginger Health Benefits
Ginger contains gingerol and shogaol, phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties. Women and girls who take ginger powder during the first few days of their menstrual cycle experience fewer and less painful cramps. Taking ginger by mouth can reduce pain in people suffering from osteoporosis and can reduce nausea in pregnant women. It also reduces dizziness and nausea in some people experiencing those symptoms. Lastly, ginger has been shown to reduce nausea in people taking drugs for AIDS, HIV and similar conditions.
However, people also claim ginger has benefits that have not been scientifically proven. Ginger does not reduce or prevent muscle pain caused by exercise, and studies are inconclusive on whether or not it can affect the following conditions:
- Motion sickness
- Serious respiratory conditions
- Nausea caused by some or all cancer treatments
- High cholesterol or blood pressure
- Joint pain
- And more
The Ginger Plant
Because ginger comes from the underground stem of the ginger plant, it's technically a rhizome and not a root. Ginger is related to turmeric and cardamom. It originated in China and was first imported to Europe by the Romans. It's now used in cuisines across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Most ginger today comes from Jamaica, Fiji, India, Australia and Indonesia.