Five Interesting Facts About Ginger
At Colorado's Best Drinks, we have an abiding respect for ginger. After all, we wouldn’t be able to offer our delicious and refreshing Sparkling CBD Ginger Ale without it. In order to pay proper homage to this humble herb the CBD Beverage Blog team have taken a deep dive into ginger and rooted out some little-known facts you might find interesting. So crack open a Sparkling CBD Ginger Ale, sit back and read on.
How We Got Here
Ginger has been a staple of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Although small amounts of ginger had been imported into Europe by the Roman Empire via land routes through Central Asia, it wasn’t until the commencement of the maritime spice trade in the 16th century that Portuguese and Dutch sailing merchants began returning huge amounts of ginger, pepper, nutmeg and other spices to Europe and getting filthy rich in the process.
Here are five facts you may not know about this herbaceous plant.
There are more than 1,000 kinds of ginger
Ginger belongs to the zingiberaceae family which includes some 1,600 species, although only a relative handful of species are used by people for culinary or medicinal purposes. Most members of the zingiberaceae family are aromatic perennials that produce creeping tuberous rhizomes. Members of the zingiberaceae family that are closely related to ginger include the popular spices turmeric and cardamom.
Today, ginger is a significant cash crop with some 4.5 million tons produced annually worldwide. India currently leads the world in ginger cultivation producing 43% of the world’s total supply of ginger. China, Nepal and Nigeria also grow significant amounts of ginger.
The origins of the name "ginger" are hotly debated
Etymology (the study of the origin of words), is an inexact science. Just about everyone, everywhere wants to be able to say popular words that originated with their language, in their country or with their ancestors. Trying to cut through the fog of competing claims requires time, patience and perseverance.
The word "ginger" is not immune to this cultural competitiveness. You will find plenty of people in India who claim the word is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word "srngaveram" which translates to "horn" and is a comment on the shape of the root. On the other hand, you will find Francophiles who insist the word is derived from the Old French word "gingibre".
Others point out that "gingibre" is derived from the much older Latin word "gingiber". However, there are plenty of Greek academics who believe the Latin word is stolen directly from the Greek ζιγγίβερις or "zingiberis". In addition, many English scholars point to the Old English word "gingifer" as being the true origin of the word ginger.
Ginger was a medicine long before it was a spice
Could it be that the same herb that we use to make our Sparkling CBD Soda also has dozens of medicinal uses that go back thousands of years? Absolutely. Ginger was a staple of traditional Chinese medicine long before anyone decided to grind it up and sprinkle it on their food.
Ancient healers recognized there was something special about this unattractive, aromatic root and began using it to treat everything from nausea to vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, colds and flus, menstrual cramps, indigestion, colic, arthritis and much more. Interestingly, modern science has confirmed that many of these ancient treatments are well-founded and that ginger also has robust anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is an effective palate cleanser
If you have ever been to a traditional sushi bar and were a bit puzzled when you were served a particular type of nigiri followed by some pickled ginger and then another type of nigiri, you’re not alone. A lot of us at CBD Drinks have sat there attempting to look like we know exactly what’s going on when in fact we didn’t have a clue.
Turns out the pickled ginger is there to act as a palate cleanser, meaning its job is to clear your tastebuds of the lingering flavor of the previous food item so that you can fully enjoy the flavor of the next one. So now the next time the sushi chef places that pickled ginger in front of you, you’ll be able to give him a knowing smile and put it to proper use.
Ginger is sold in several forms
Although we appreciate it as the foundational ingredient in our Sparkling CBD Soda Ginger Ale ginger is sold in several different forms to enhance the flavor of food.
- Raw: Raw ginger is chopped, grated or pressed (to release its juice) and is added to dips, marinades, glazes, soups, cakes, smoothies, bread and countless Asian and Western dishes.
- Dried: While dried ginger is most often used in traditional medicine it can also be employed to add flavor and character to your favorite dishes.
- Ground: Ground ginger can be used to enhance the taste of food just like raw ginger, but it will last a lot longer. If you’re into baking, ground ginger is an absolute must.
- Pickled: Besides being a palate cleanser, pickled ginger is also a popular ingredient in many Indian dishes and has a long history of being used as a breath freshener.
- Crystalized: Crystalized ginger is used as a garnish for cheese plates and to add a tangy note to the flavor of cheesecake or Key lime pie. Others stir it into our CBD Beverages Sparkling Water to add a bit of bite.