I used to love making my own trail mix from the bulk bins of natural grocery stores. Nuts made up most of my trail mixes, but, more often than not, I’d also include crystallized ginger. I love the combination of roasted almonds and crystallized ginger because the brightness of the ginger perfectly balances the sugar browning elements of the roasted nuts. Inspired by this favorite snack, I created a nut butter that celebrates this delicious duo in 2012 – Big Spoon Roasters’ Fiji Ginger Almond Butter. To our knowledge, this was the first commercial nut butter to include crystallized ginger as an ingredient. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who enjoys the combination of almonds and ginger, as Fiji Ginger Almond Butter has grown to become a perennial bestseller in our nut butter lineup.
Ginger is a plant that is native to tropical regions of Asia that is widely cultivated for its edible rhizome, or root. The ginger plant has long, narrow leaves and produces small, yellow-green flowers. We source the ginger used in our Fiji Ginger Almond Butter and Apple Ginger Almond Butter Bar exclusively from the The Ginger People’s remarkable Fiji Ginger Project. As part of the Fiji Ginger project, The Ginger People work with small-scale farmers in Fiji who share reverence for the land through sustainable farming practices.
It took nearly a year of research, ordering, and evaluating samples before we discovered this uncommonly delicious Fiji ginger, which is somehow stronger in flavor and naturally sweeter than any other ginger we’ve tasted.
Combined with fresh-roasted almond butter, dried apples, and toasted whole grains, that same Fiji ginger gives our Apple Ginger Almond Butter Bars a satisfying “bite,” in addition to adding nourishing nutrition.
Facts About Ginger
Ginger has a spicy and robust flavor that is often described as warm, zesty, and slightly sweet. The characteristic flavor and aroma of ginger result from the presence of compounds called gingerols and shgaols. When ginger is consumed fresh, it has a crisp, slightly fibrous texture that can be slightly chewy. When ginger is cooked or dried (crystallized), it becomes softer and has a slightly sweeter flavor. The intensity of the flavor of ginger can vary depending on the age of the ginger root and the way it is prepared. Fresh ginger tends to have a more potent flavor than dried ginger, and younger ginger roots tend to have a milder flavor than older ones.
To cultivate ginger, farmers typically start by planting ginger rhizomes in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Farmers may choose to start the plants in pots or seed trays indoors, before transplanting them to a sunny spot in the garden when the weather is warm enough.
Once the ginger plants are established, farmers need to keep the soil moist and weed-free to ensure the plants have the best chance of growing. Ginger plants prefer a humid environment, so farmers may need to water the plants regularly or use a misting system to keep the leaves and soil moist.
As the ginger plants grow, farmers harvest the rhizomes as they reach maturity. This is typically done by carefully digging up the plants and separating the rhizomes from the rest of the plant. The rhizomes are then cleaned, dried, and either used fresh or stored for later use.
Medicinal Uses of Ginger
Ginger has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. It is a popular ingredient in traditional and alternative medicine due to its numerous health benefits. Some of the medicinal uses of ginger include:
- Digestive aid: Ginger is often used to help alleviate digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. It is believed to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which can help improve digestion and reduce bloating and gas.
- Reducing inflammation: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the body. This can be beneficial for people with conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.
- Reducing headaches: Some people find that ginger can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches, including migraines.
- Cold and flu relief: Ginger has antiviral properties and may help reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.
- Improved cardiovascular health: Ginger has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which, in turn, may help to improve cardiovascular health.
- Menstrual cramp relief: Ginger has been traditionally used to help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.
Pain relief: Ginger has been found to be effective in reducing muscle pain and soreness, as well as other types of pain.
It is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the potential medicinal uses of ginger and to determine the appropriate dosage and method of use for each condition. If you are considering using ginger as a natural remedy, it is always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider first to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for you.
- Mark Overbay, Big Spoon Roasters Co-founder and President
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