Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Harvest and Make Ground Ginger


As I was cutting back all of the dead summer plants in my garden this winter, I had Christmas on the brain. Cutting my ginger plants, which have such lovely and potently fragrant white blooms during the summer, got me wondering if ground ginger (and gingerbread cookies!) could somehow be derived from my ginger plants. A little research soon uncovered that ginger root and ground ginger do come from the beautiful flower that I happened to have as a decorative plant in my garden!

It turns out to be a simple process, so I decided to share! Also, I got to use three of my Christmas presents in the process (mandoline, dehydrator, and electric food mill). Love, love, love new kitchen gadgets!

In case you are wondering if you have it in your garden as well, there are several different varieties, but my plants look like this:

After the ginger plants die back in the winter, it is the perfect time to harvest the root, which is actually a rhizome, to use as a spice for different recipes. You will want to dig up a few of the rhizomes that are from the previous year's growth rather than the new growth that just started in the past spring. Either will work, but the older the rhizome, the stronger the flavor will be. I had a few rhizomes growing out of the garden into the yard, so I started with those.


After digging up a few and rinsing them off, I was ready to get started on the experiment! As you can see, these rhizomes still have some green on them as they are younger, but the older ones will have a completely brown skin.


 Peel off the skin off with a vegetable peeler. The inside will have a thick, white, fibrous texture. Some recipes call for ginger root, and you would use the ginger at this point for those recipes. But for recipes calling for ground ginger, we continue the process.


 Use a mandoline slicer to create thin slices. Side note- mandolines are amazing!


Put the slices in a dehydrator on medium for about an hour. I was surprised at how fast the ginger dried! It ends up looking like paper thin sawdust curls.


 Put the completely dehydrated ginger flakes in a food mill or coffee bean grinder.


 Grind for a minute or so until most of the ginger is a powder.


Shake the powder through a fine strainer or sifter to separate out any pieces that didn't chop up fine enough.


And what you have left is ground ginger! You can store it in an airtight glass container or spice jar. I can't believe the price I have been paying for ground ginger and ginger root while I had it growing in my backyard all along! Go figure.


What about you? Do you have any ginger in your yard???