Young Ginger is a knobby, multiple branched rhizome found in many different shapes and sizes growing up to ten centimeters in length. The skin is devoid of the rough callousness that is found in mature ginger and is so thin that it can easily be removed by hand. The skin is also smoother and has a light cream-colored to tan base with some darker brown spots and pink blushing around the tips. Underneath the skin, the ivory to cream-colored flesh is almost fiber-free and is juicy, swollen, and crisp. Young Ginger is aromatic and tender with a mildly peppery, floral, and sweet taste.
Young Ginger is available in the spring and early fall.
Young Ginger, botanically classified as Zingiber officinale, is the immature, underground rhizome or root stem of a tropical herb that can grow up to one meter in height and belongs to the Zingiberaceae family along with cardamom and turmeric. Also known as Spring Ginger, the young rhizomes are harvested approximately six months after planting and are favored for their subtle flavor and delicate texture. Young Ginger is highly perishable and cannot be shipped long distances, so it is mainly localized to the areas it is cultivated in.
Ginger is one of the world’s oldest known medicinal foods and is used to ease nausea and indigestion. It is also known as an anti-inflammatory and contains vitamin C, fiber, iron, and potassium. The nutritional content of Young Ginger is less than the mature rhizome that is left in the ground for up to a year longer, allowing the root to develop its medicinal compounds better. Ginger’s primary compounds are zingerone, shogaol, and gingerol, the amounts of which differ depending on geography, time of harvest, and processing.
Young Ginger is best suited for raw applications as its flavor is mild and less pungent than the mature rhizome. The flesh does not need to be peeled and can be thinly sliced or minced and added to stir-fries, whisked into salad dressings, stirred into kimchi or pickled carrots, tossed into salads, or mixed into soups and stews. Young Ginger can also be candied, steeped with sugar and water to make a simple syrup that can be used in granitas and sorbets, or used to flavor cocktails, wine, and kombucha. Young Ginger pairs well with plums, cranberries, corn, kale, arugula, scallions, sauces such as fish sauce, soy sauce, and oyster sauce, rice vinegar, noodles, and rice. The rhizome will keep up to one week when stored in a paper bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It can also be sliced thinly and frozen for extended use.