Ginger of commerce is the dried underground stem of the herbaceous tropical plant grown as an annual. The whole plant is refreshingly aromatic and the underground rhizome, raw or processed, is valued as spice. Ginger is a slender perennial herb, 30-50 cm tall with palmately branched rhizome bearing leafy shoots. The leafy shoot is a pseudostem formed by leaf sheath and bears 8 to 12 distichous leaves.
Origin and Distribution
It is a tropical plant with the centre of origin in India and Malaysia. Now it is widely cultivated in India, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Malaysia, Southern China and Japan.
Ginger requires warm and humid climate and thrives well from sea level to an altitude of 1500 mtrs above MSL. A well distributed rainfall (150 to 300cm) during growing season and dry spells during land preparation and harvesting are required for the crop. Though grows on a wide range of soils, lateritic loams are preferred for higher yields.
Fresh ginger, dry ginger powder, oleoresin and oil are used in food processing. It is indispensable in the manufacture of ginger bread, confectionary, ginger ale, curry powders, certain curried meats, table sauces, in pickling and in the manufacture of certain cordials, ginger cocktail, carbonate drinks, liquors etc.
In medicine, it is used as carminative and stimulant. It has wider applications in indigenous medicines. The ginger oil is used as food flavourant in soft drinks.