Ginger – luya (Zingiber) is a root vegetable used as a spice. It is a perennial plant and develop flowers but this ginger is different from the ornamental gingers that bears pink and red flowers.
I like to have ginger in my garden for my cooking needs. I even use the leaves for steaming fish just like my grandma. I watched her put some leaves in the bottom of the clay pot before putting the fish inside with little water and salt then let it steam with the lid on. And I tell you the fish would be so delicious no matter what kind of fish it is.
I also use ginger in making my own Chai tea. I boil it together with turmeric, cardamom and galangal which by the way are related to ginger. They belong to the same family of Zingiber. I also include other spices like cloves, cinnamon and lemon grass which I also grow in my garden for my cooking.
Most cultures grow ginger for its medicinal value the most common of which is for motion sickness. It is also now recognize as an anti-inflammatory herb.
In the Philippines, ginger is boiled to make salabat which is a drink used by singers to prevent sore throat. It is also used in making paksiw, a dish made of fish with ginger,vinegar and salt. Sometimes my mom put bittermelon in it especially if the fish she’s making is milkfish or “bangus”. “Bangus” is the most bony fish in the Philippines.
Japanese use ginger in making pickles. They call ginger “shoga” . It is an accompaniment in eating “sushi” and almost always included in “bento” boxes.
It is also made into candies, gingerbread cookies, crackers and used in making drinks like ginger ale and ginger beer.
Ginger is quite easy to grow. I just used a small ginger as my seed and cover it with compost. I label to make sure I won’t disturb the ground that I planted it in. I always make that mistake. I wait at least 3 months before I can gather or wait till I see yellowing of the leaves. It sometimes have flowers that’s when I know it is maturing.