Gingerroot”, as ginger is often called, is actually a misnomer; it’s a rhizome, an underground stem, not a root, and it sprouts its own roots. It grows much like bamboo with strong, sturdy stalks bearing incredibly fragrant flowers. The edible part, the rhizome, looks vaguely like deer antlers, and gave rise to another name, “horn root.”

To buy and store ginger:

The longer ginger is left in the ground, the more flavourful it becomes, but it also becomes more fibrous. Fibrous ginger is okay for grating, but it’s difficult to chop into thin matchsticks suitable for stir-frying. Young ginger, with a pink hue and a soft skin is easier to chop, but not always easy to find.

Mature ginger has more of a peppery flavour. Look for firm, heavy “hands” of ginger. If they are shriveled or have any mould on them, they have been stored too long. It is recommended that ginger be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, but I have found that this depends on the temperature and humidity level of the refrigerator and that it lasts longer stored in a vegetable crisper and left unwrapped. So you will need to see what works best.

One method of preserving it is to slice fresh ginger to about the thickness of a quarter (peeled or unpeeled), put it in a glass jar, and pour dry sherry over it. Cap it, put it in the fridge, and it will stay good for several years. You can use the sherry to flavor dishes. Just add a little more sherry to keep pieces of ginger well-covered.

Dried ginger is no substitute for fresh, although it certainly has its uses. It is made by drying ginger in the sun and then grinding it into a powder. But it lacks the citrus flavour of fresh gingerroot.

To grow ginger in a pot on a window sill:

  • Buy ginger that has small knobs extending from the main stems.
  • Put it in a paper bag and put it in a warm but sun-free spot.
  • Check it once a week to see if it's beginning to sprout.
  • Bury the main stem in a large pot of rich soil, growing buds upward, just beneath the surface of the soil.
  • Give it a permanent home on a windowsill where it will receive bright but not hot sun.
  • Water thoroughly.
  • In a few weeks, green shoots should appear. Water and mist every three days and don’t let the soil dry out.
  • Pinch back the first set of leaves when the shoots are about four inches tall.
  • You can harvest the ginger when the plants are about five months old.

Although ginger is usually grown in tropical areas, my plant is now about eight months old, eighteen inches tall and none the worse for having spent months on a windowsill during a Canadian winter.

Zingiber Officinale - culinary and medicinal herb

Known as a medicine by the Chinese as long ago as 2000 BC, the root (strictly, stem) of this plant has come to be known and used all over the world. The plant itself grows to about three feet, and is a perennial, the leaves growing up from the underground rhizome which forms the edible part of the plant.

Western history records that the Romans taxed ginger imports into Mediterranean ports, and it was known and used in Northern Europe from at least the 11th Century. Ginger is grown commercially in Fiji, India, Jamaica, Central Africa and China (although Australia exports a little, too).

Medicinal Use

In Chinese medicine, it is one of the most important herbs. Its use is indicated for inflammation of the joints, and in the treatment of many digestive troubles, nausea, vomiting and also to induce sweating when treating fever. In India, it was prescribed for coughs and respiratory problems, and it is still used in the West Indies as an inhalant to treat respiratory congestion. (On a personal note, I can vouch for the effectiveness of ginger tea as an aid to surviving a hangover.)

Modern Western medicine also acknowledges the efficacy of ginger, in particular the non-volatile components including zingerone and gingerol (which has been demonstrated to counter liver toxicity, by increasing the secretion of bile). The Lancet reported in 1982 that ginger preparations were more effective than standard treatments for motion sickness. Ginger was also found to reduce the cohesiveness of blood platelets, possibly helping to reduce risk of atherosclerosis.


It is used as an essential oil in aromatheraphy to treat aching muscles, arthritis, nausea and poor circulation, and in general as a warming massage oil. It can be added to bath water or used in an evaporator to help clear nasal congestion.

Culinary Use

Ginger crops up in almost all Oriental cooking, from China to India. Malaysian and Thai cooking in particular relies heavily on ginger as a flavouring spice. Candied ginger was a favourite among the Chinese upper classes, and at one time it was illegal for people outside some classes to buy it.

In Europe and North America, many beverages are made using the root - ginger beer and ginger ale, both home-made brews and commercial brands being highly popular.

Finally, the name of African island of Zanzibar may be connected with ginger. Also known as the "Spice Island", it was certainly grown and exported from there in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Caution: The essential oil is slightly phototoxic. Do not expose the skin to sunlight for 24 hours following treatment.

Aromatherapy is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have a health condition, consult your physician. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, consult your doctor before using any aromatherapy products. Do not take essential oils internally. Keep essential oils and all aromatherapy products out of the reach of children. -

Pronounced with hard G's Ghin-Ger, it inevitably refers to someone with red hair. Apart from the various names, usually involving carrots, volcanoes, fire, matches, Ginger Nuts (both the biscuits and the anatomical references), having red hair can cause other problems.
  1. Easily identifiable:
    Not many people have red hair, and it stands out like a sore thumb. Therefore, doing anything that might be frowned upon is a Bad Idea - you're going to be caught red-headed.
  2. Sunburn and Skin Cancer:
    People with red hair are usually very pale with freckles. This means that sunburn is a real danger - I used to get sunburn every year despite taking all the relevent precautions. It's well known that sunburn is a sign that your skin is getting damaged in the same way that skin cancer is caused.
  3. Bad Temper:
    It's not really a myth that red-headed people are a little fiery. Whilst most of us can deal with our temper most of the time, don't push us.
  4. Fainting:
    When we were given a lecture about giving blood, we were told that, through purely anecdotal evidence (although from someone who has managed blood donations for many years), that redheads have a tendency to pass out. I then felt the combined pressure of over three hundred eyeballs pressing down on the back of my neck.
  5. Getting Caught:
    "You can run, but you can't hide". An accurate quotation for someone who is ginger. It's not so much the fact that it's so bright, it's just that it's rare (about 5% of the population - less if you aren't in Ireland.). So they see two dark shadowy figures running away for a prank, and one of them has red hair. Guess who that is!
A Geordie Rock Singer/Songwriter (that's someone from Newcastle in the UK btw) most famously responsible for being a member of the Wildhearts, a superb rock/metal band that were around about 5 odd years ago. They broke up and reformed a number of times and almost certainly finally broke up because of Ginger and his wild antics.

When the magazine Kerrang! gave the Wildhearts a bad review, he and the band burst into their offices and trashed everything. Very rock'n'roll I'm sure you'll agree.

He did some less successful solo stuff after that and has recently formed a new band called the Ginger Silver Five I believe. I keep hearing his voice recently on Xfm as he plugs this new project.

A term used in Glasgow for just about any carbonated beverage with the exception of mineral water. The term presumably came from Irn-Bru, the tasty but alarmingly orange drink favoured in the aforementioned city. By drinking this, one may amass a substantial collection of gingae boatles.

gillion = G = GIPS

ginger n.

See saga.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Gin"ger (?), n. [OE. ginger, gingever, gingivere, OF. gengibre, gingimbre, F. gingembre, L. zingiber, zingiberi, fr. Gr. ; of Oriental origin; cf. Ar. & Pers. zenjebil, fr. Skr. gavera, prop., hornshaped; ga horn + vera body.]

1. Bot.

A plant of the genus Zingiber, of the East and West Indies. The species most known is Z. officinale.


The hot and spicy rootstock of Zingiber officinale, which is much used in cookery and in medicine.

Ginger beer ∨ ale, a mild beer impregnated with ginger. -- Ginger cordial, a liquor made from ginger, raisins, lemon rind, and water, and sometimes whisky or brandy. -- Ginger pop. See Ginger beer (above). -- Ginger wine, wine impregnated with ginger. -- Wild ginger Bot., an American herb (Asarum Canadense) with two reniform leaves and a long, cordlike rootstock which has a strong taste of ginger.


© Webster 1913.

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