Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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An important spice or condiment; also the plant from which it is obtained, Zingiber officinale, of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). The plant is a native of southeastern Asia. It is an erect perennial herb (see illustration) having thick, scaly, branched rhizomes which contain starch, gums, an oleoresin (gingerin) responsible for the pungent taste, and an essential oil which imparts the aroma. The rhizomes, dug up after the aerial parts have withered, are treated in different ways to produce green ginger or dried ginger. Ginger is used in medicine, in culinary preparations (soups, curries, puddings, pickles, gingerbread, and cookies), and for flavoring beverages such as ginger ale and ginger beer. The plant is grown in China, Japan, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, Queensland, and Indonesia. See also: Spice and flavoring; Zingiberales
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