Ginger Root Beer - Ingredients and Effects
The Ingredients of Ginger Root Beer (Ginger Lemonade) – Your Water Kefir with an Extra Twist
Water Kefir plus Ginger = Ginger Root Beer
The Ginger Root Plant with which the traditional, hearty Ginger Root Beer is produced is a specially grown Water Kefir drink with Kefir grains. If you are interested in the particular ingredients that this culture contains and produces while fermentation, we may also refer you to our page about the ingredients of Water Kefir – it’s basically the same community of bacteria and yeasts.
But at this point, it should be rather about the main ingredient which distinguishes Water Kefir from Ginger Root Beer: ginger, the Asian power root. If you favor healthy, natural and tasty ingredients for your cooking at home, then there is no way around ginger. Over the past several years, the Asian root has become an integral part of the German and European cuisine.
For Kombucha, Ginger may only be combined with right after the fermentation process. (Which is very delicious by the way: just give a few slices of ginger or some grated ginger into your finished Kombucha beverage.) If you put ginger in there while the fermentation takes place, its various essential oils and ingredients would hinder the process of fermentation itself. The same applies to the production of Kefir: It may be savory and refreshing in your finished Kefir drink but would also greatly hinder the fermentation work of the culture when added at the same time.
For Water Kefir, it is a totally different story: The recipe for Ginger Root Beer invites you to combine two highly interesting, nutritious and valuable foods – because ginger and Water Kefir are just a perfect match. As you may have read on our page Interesting Facts about Ginger Root Beer, this famous recipe is at least a 150 years old. We have taken the famous recipe as an opportunity to gather some information about the Asian root, which is shrouded in myth and legend, just for you.
Ginger: The Asian Power Root is literally on Everyone’s Lips
For some it is an aromatic delicacy while others can’t stand its taste: ginger parts the companies. Ginger may originally stem from the Asian cuisine but the healthy cuisines of Europe can also not be imagined without it anymore. Over the past years, this particular spice has become more and more accepted and popular over here: as dried ginger in baking seasonings and curry mixes, as a candied fruit or chocolate-coated candy, freshly grated or sliced in Asian stews, curries and soups, as pickled slices for sushi, grated raw in salad, yoghurt or kefir, as well as in fruit salads, fruit compotes and or chutneys... it can’t be ignored, ginger is just everywhere! German TV master chefs like Ms. Sarah Wiener and MCs like Mr. Johannes B. Kerner pledge for the relaxing and soothing effects of raw ginger slices in hot water and celebrate their enjoyment right in front of the cameras.
With all this trendy excitement around the Asian ginger root, it is easily forgotten that the ginger was originally used as a medicinal plant. The exact origin of the ginger shrub and the spice extracted from its roots is unknown, sure is that it has been used in Asia for at least three full millennia. The ginger root is mentioned already in ancient Chinese and Indian Sanskrit as their lifeblood – and nowadays ginger is being cultivated in almost any tropical area of the world. It grows in Southeast Asia, Jamaica, Brazil, and Florida and also in Central Africa for example.
Ginger: A versatile, beautifully flowering Plant
Ginger (Latin: Zingiber officinale) belongs to the ginger family. The plant grows up to a meter in size and can practically not be found in natural habitats anymore. It grows the same way like reed does while developing a vast and thick rhizome (root network) which shape may remind you of deer horns. Furthermore, the plant shows a dense and very decorative inflorescence. The blossoms kinda look like lilies and iris. Ginger does occur in many varieties and breeds: its flower colors and shapes do vary accordingly and may be admired in many tropical botanical gardens around the globe.
Ginger is very robust: anyone who wants to study ginger for himself may even do so with a cool-stored ginger root from the vegetable department. For this purpose, just get a large (please no dried up) tuber and put it flat in a pot with some moisty earth only slightly covered by it. In a warm location and with some luck, the rootstock will sprout very quickly and soon develop a lush reed-like plant. For summer, you may keep the plant in a semi-shady place on your balcony or terrace and it is best to keep it moderately moist (but not wet). The ginger will lose its leaves in autumn and that’s exactly the time for harvesting its fleshy root..
An exotic Tonic travels the World:
Ginger has been cultivated in tropical Asia for at least 3000 years. It was especially widespread in ancient India and China. The roots are easy to transport and have a long shelf life – that’s actually the reason why ginger was the first spice being spread around the world. The Romans knew ginger imported in small clay pots and valued it as a special and stimulating delicacy. In fear of epidemics and spoiled food, they highly seasoned their food in general – a practice that also explains the spicy to fiery-spicy cuisine of East Asia – and that’s exactly what ginger was perfect for.
The fresh juice of ginger root is germicidal resp. germ-blocking and has therefore preserved food and beverages very well back in times when there were no refrigerators and the like available.
The Spaniards have brought the ginger plant to Jamaica where it thrived superbly. In the 17th century, ginger was temporarily out of fashion in Europe. In England in particular it was so widespread that it couldn’t serve as a status symbol anymore; but however, much of the former enthusiasm for the exotic ginger has still survived in the English and American cooking tradition: Ginger Ale, ginger bread, ginger cookies and the Ginger Root Beer made with the help of Water Kefir testify its ongoing popularity; although the interest for fresh ginger from the vegetable departments only came up in the early 1990s alongside the spreading Asian and healthy cuisine in Europe.
Character and Ingredients of the Ginger Root
Shape and taste of ginger may vary greatly depending on where and under what climate conditions it has been planted. African ginger is mostly dark brown, has a medical-bitter flavor and is considered very spicy. Indian ginger is light brown to reddish-brown, lemon-earthy flavored and also very spicy whereas Chinese types are rather pale in color (light brown to beige), slightly lemony and very aromatic being only a bit spicy. You mostly find these three types of ginger in German vegetable departments with the most common being the Chinese – maybe because China is worldwide the biggest exporter. The ginger considered best in quality and taste is actually the ginger from the Fiji Islands and Jamaica.
Fresh ginger should be thick and firm with a silky skin whereas wrinkled tubers indicate an old age. When stored in a fridge and with high humidity, ginger roots may be kept best for about 3 months. (For good humidity, simply wrap your ginger tubers in a wetted cloth.)
Until now, no less than dozens of secondary phytochemicals like essential oils and or resins have been discovered in ginger root. This may explain the complex and manifold flavors of ginger and also its various but partly contradictious characteristics e.g. ginger is considered as soothing and stimulating at the same time.
Fresh ginger is very rich in vitamin C and contains numerous essential oils such as Shogaol, Eucalyptol, Borneol, Linalool, Camphene, Phellandrene and Gingerol amongst many others. Hereof, Gingerol is better known due to its Aspirin-like chemical structure. Giving a relaxing and soothing effect, Gingerol also acts as counterpart to the hormone serotonin in your gut. Furthermore, Gingerol and Shogaol alike are spicy components which are only very slightly volatile when cooked. They stimulate saliva and perspiration and give a marked warm feeling in your stomach. Ginger has generally a warming effect, not only in your stomach but also in your skin and is therefore ideally suited to warm you up in winter.
Ginger as traditional Medicinal Plant
In Chinese and Indian traditions, ginger is described as the panacea for almost all kinds of ailments. Around 2700 BC, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung has declared ginger as a royal plant which should preserve and advance (his and his people’s) vitality. In the Ayurveda medicine of India which focusses much more on the prevention of illnesses through a healthy lifestyle than all Western medicine, there is the adage: “There’s no tincture without ginger”.
In Ayurveda (translates somewhat into life sciences / wisdom) it is assumed that ginger root increases the effectiveness of many other agents.
"There's no tincture without ginger."
Much of the traditional enthusiasm for ginger may seem overly exaggerated with much of it being certainly due to the flowery language of past human episodes. But even today and also in our Western cultures, ginger is being very frequently used for harmonizing the stomach and intestine balancing our entire digestive system while stimulating one’s appetite. Additionally, ginger is considered as soothing and relaxing in times of lots of hustle and bustle serving as a good food for our nerves. And in winter: a warm-up from the inside making you beautifully sweat.
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