Ginger was popular in my kitchen this week. First up was a favorite, ginger liqueur . . .
Peel fresh ginger with a vegetable peeler, then chop into small pieces.
Place 1-2 tablespoons (I used 2 but my recipe says 1, it's your call) of the chopped ginger in 1 1/2 cups brandy and allow to infuse at room temperature for two weeks, shake occasionally. After two weeks, strain out the ginger bits and make the sweetener syrup -- add 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 granulated sugar to 1/2 cup water and boil until the mixture is clear. Cool and add the syrup to the brandy, then allow the liqueur another week to develop the flavor.
To make a somewhat healthier version, I suppose a person could substitute another type of sweetener, honey or agave, but I haven't tried that yet. I always figure a little sugar can be tolerated now and then.
Next up was ginger honey . . . chop enough peeled ginger to fill 1/3 to 1/2 of a jar, then pour honey over all, stir it in, cover and allow to infuse at room temperature for 2-4 weeks. Strain or not. After only a few days, the honey takes on the ginger flavor. This would be fabulous added to a vinaigrette, I'm planning on it next chance I get. And a spoon of this in a cup of mint tea is heaven -- the peppery, sweet bits of ginger in the tea are an absolute delight. Taken before dinner, it will stimulate your appetite and taken after dinner, your digestion!
Ginger tea was made . . . pour boiling water over a couple of thin slices of ginger infuse for 10 minutes. Drink plain or add lemon and/or honey. This is the most common way to prepare ginger for treating colds & flu -- as a diaphoretic, it helps break a fever by increasing perspiration, thus lowering the body temperature; plus, sweating removes toxins from the body through the skin -- you've heard of sweating it out. After you've made it once, you'll know if you want to add more ginger for a more potent brew. I make mine quite a bit stronger than this, but then again, I really like ginger!
Last but not least, ginger vinegar is on my to-do list . . . add about 1/3 to 1/2 jarful of peeled, chopped ginger to a small jar, then fill to the top with apple cider vinegar. Make sure to use a plastic lid, or with a metal lid, first place a layer of saran over the top of the jar to prevent corrosion, and infuse 4-6 weeks in a cool, dark cupboard. Strain. Use in recipes, but it is also well-used medicinally in this form.
In addition to what I've already mentioned, ginger, Zingiber officinale, helps relieve motion sickness, stimulates circulation by dilating the capillaries and blood vessels, and soothes a sore throat as a gargle. It is a good herb to include in herbal formulas as it intensifies and prolongs the effects of other herbs. I have even known people to take little doses of ginger vinegar when hiking in the mountains to prevent altitude sickness.
I'm always looking for new ways to use medicinal herbal foods -- do you have any special uses for ginger?
I wrote this last night before the earthquake occurred in Japan. As I read over ginger's effects, they remind me of what Earth is undergoing right now on a magnified scale -- dispersion and movement in the form of earthquakes, the increased strength of stimulated waters pouring across part of the planet at this moment in time, and the intensity of it all causing such pain and suffering.
My heart goes out to all once again affected by Nature. May all feel safe and loved whichever side of the veil they find themselves.
Also posted over at Food Renegade.