Ginger is the culinary equivalent of enthusiasm. Whether you’re using it in a savory or a sweet dish, its spicy aroma that seems to go straight from the nose to the brain, is a wake-up call: Hey! Things are about to get interesting! Put the ginger flower in a vase; in the kitchen we use the rhizome of the plant which is from a family—kind of amusingly—called Zingiberaceae. (Emphasis on zing!) Ginger has been used for more than 3,000 years as a spice and a medicine. Of course it always gets the spotlight come the holidays—gingerbread architecture is an increasingly refined and complex art—just take a look at the building featured on the cover of Salt Lake magazine in 2018. Here, along with Thai, Indian and Vietnamese cuisines, ginger is getting more and more popular as a main-course spice.

Available in many forms, ginger is a go-to for fabulous flavor. Here are just some of the ways it’s used:

Ginger Root

Ginger root

Ginger is not a root, it is actually a rhizome. Buy a fresh piece of it in the produce department and store it in the freezer. When you crave the taste of fresh ginger, grate off as much as you need with a hard-cheese grater.  

Crystallized Ginger

Crystallized Ginger

Diced ginger root is cooked in sugar syrup until the sugar crystallizes. Use it in baking or dip it in melted dark chocolate for an after-dinner palate refresher.

Powdered Ginger  

Powdered Ginger

The rhizome is dried and ground. Find this in the spice department and use it in all kinds of baked goods. (Tip: A tiny pinch added to yeast doughs at the beginning will speed up their rise.)

Pickled Ginger

Pickled Ginger

This is traditionally used as a palate refresher during a sushi dinner, but it’s also wonderful slivered into green salads or chicken salad. 

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