Ginger. In my childhood years, it was a snap. Cookie, that is. Ginger snaps were a relatively rare treat. Mom didn’t believe in dessert. She said if the meal’s good then you don’t need dessert or the extra calories. Case Closed. When relatives visited, though, ginger snaps were sometimes among the treats she stocked, so it wasn’t as if I was completely unfamiliar with this spicy little root by the time I had my first true Ginger experience.
Ginger: Real Life Adventures with a Family Herbalist
My friend Nisha used ginger copiously in her Kebab burgers. She was the amazing Indian cook who taught me how to create foods with fire provoking herbs like Cayenne and Ginger. I was twenty-five, give or take a year, when we enjoyed our first barbecue on her back deck. The burgers were spicy, juicy, zesty and light. After only one bite, my hubby wanted the recipe. “How did you do that? Make Hamburgers taste so light and bright?” He demanded.
“Ginger, lemon, cilantro, and seranos,” was her reply. And, to my request she show me how, she said, “Yes.” I’m eternally grateful she did.
I’ve kept ginger on hand ever since. For many years, ginger provoked me…right into hot flashes. Even a tiny piece of candied ginger stoked my fire, making me start stripping off clothing even in damp, cold weather. I loved it in Indian cooking, where the other ingredients seem to balance ginger’s fire. In any other venue it was just too much.
Now that I’ve reached the age of unprovoked hot flashes, ginger’s become a surprising friend. My digestion slows at times to a near crawl, as if all that fire I’ve carried inside me all these years has threatened to call it quits. Ginger reignites the flame, getting things moving again. Rather than creating excess fire in me, Ginger helps sooth and balance my natural fire. I keep crystalized ginger in the pantry and fresh ginger root in the ‘fridge for both cooking and for aiding on those days when my digestive system needs a little kick.
The digestive system is one of ginger’s favorites, even when you’re not dealing with hormonally-induced challenges like those that come with PMS, pregnancy, and perimenopause. I use ginger in my fire cider recipe, which also features horseradish dug fresh from my garden and beets alongside spices and herbs that change with each season.
Fire cider is an old-fashioned vinegar infusion designed to kick-start digestion and kill off any cold or flu germs that may be trying to get a foothold in your body. In our household, we call our fire cider Kali’s Fire in honor of the way Kali smites her enemies. Ours is designed to add flavor and, more importantly, anti-germ power to our daily diet. When I notice flu or cold knocking on our door, I add Kali’s Fire Cider to salad dressing, soup, and sometimes I’ll drink an ounce straight up to strengthen my immune system. Ginger helps ensure that if my digestive system is off a bit it gets back on track.
I’ve also tried my hand at homemade bitters in recent years. I use both fresh ginger tincture and tincture made from dried ginger root in those blends. Ginger offers a spicy, slightly sweet lift, especially when the other herbs in the blend are intensely bitter. I like my ginger bitter blends for cocktails as well as mixed with a little sparkling water to drink either before or after dinner.
As life rolls along, my relationship with ginger keeps getting stronger. I honestly can no longer imagine my pantry, refrigerator, liquor cabinet, or herbal pantry without this spicy root!
For More Information on Ginger
For more information on ginger, purchase a copy of Ginger: Warming Spice for Health and Life (The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio Book 6). This Herbal Folio contains expanded information, including:
- Gardening and Gathering
- Animal Husbandry
- Household Formulas
- History, Folklore, Myth, and Magic
- A Printable Quick Facts Card
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