Fresh, pungent, spicy, zesty, sweet, and peppery. That’s the taste and aroma you can get from fresh ginger root. This spice has been around the culinary world for thousands of years in ancient China, India, Rome, and the Middle East. In this modern-day, ginger is cultivated in different parts of the world, mostly in Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, and Jamaica.
Ginger root is a rhizome, a native spice in Southeast Asian countries. This spice is highly valued ever since the beginning of its use because of its potential medicinal properties. Yes, ginger is a remedy for gas pains, gastrointestinal distress, cramping, motion sickness, pain, nausea, and vomiting.
In the culinary world, fresh ginger is vital in many types of cuisines. It is best added in dishes like stir-fries, curries, soups, marinades, baked goods, and beverages like teas, sodas, and cocktails.
Ginger is always available all-year-round. In supermarkets, fresh ginger is sold either young or mature. Both can last in refrigerated conditions for up to three weeks.
Green or spring ginger refers to young ginger. It’s paler than the mature ones, with skin that is thin. Sometimes, people do not see the need to peel it, either they will chop, julienne, or grate it, then toss it in their cooking. The flesh of the young ginger is tender with a milder flavor than the fresh mature ginger. On the other hand, the mature ginger has thicker skin and a more robust flavor than the young fresh ginger.
If your recipe needs ginger, you can find some suitable substitutes closer to the taste and aroma of fresh ginger. In choosing your alternatives for fresh ginger, you must understand how each option can affect your recipe.
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Ginger Products you can find
Here are the ginger products you can acquire in stores:
Ground ginger, also known as powdered ginger, is considered the best substitute for fresh ginger root. This is made by drying peeled fresh ginger root and grounded to a fine powder. The dried and ground version of fresh ginger root comes with an earthy flavor with a touch of sweetness, and the powder’s color is pale yellow. Though ground ginger is less potent than fresh ginger in terms of taste, it works well as a seasoning for curries, baked goods, sauces, and batter mixture.
To substitute fresh ginger root with ground ginger, use ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger for every 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger. Note that using ground ginger may not work well with other kinds of baked goods.
To find out if your ground ginger is still fresh, just smell it. Fresh ground ginger must have a spicy and gingery aroma. Your ground ginger can last up to six months once opened.
In Japan, pickled ginger is called gari, Beni shoga, or sushi ginger. It’s made from thinly sliced ginger that is preserved in salt and sweet vinegar solution. It’s color usually ranges from bright red or pink coming from the ginger root. It’s a great accompaniment with sushi and sashimi, and it also serves as a breath freshener. You can find this product in Asian stores or even make your own pickled ginger at home.
If you need something gingery to spice up your Indian dish, stir-fries, sushi, gingerbread, or smoothie, the ginger paste can do it.
Ginger paste is made of grounded fresh ginger root and oil. The ginger and oil are mixed together to form a paste.
This product is sold in jars, and it is available in Asian stores. You can even make your own ginger paste at home and keep it in the fridge. With this, it will always be ready for your reach anytime.
Minced ginger almost looks like a ginger paste. The difference? It’s their texture and taste. Minced ginger is like a diluted version of ginger paste. In other words, it’s taste is not as strong as a ginger paste.
You can use the minced ginger to substitute fresh ginger root for your stir-fry dishes and marinades.
Minced ginger is sold in bottles or jars. You can find this in many Asian markets or at the grocery stores.
If minced ginger is fine in texture, grated ginger has larger granules. These are kept in bottles with a mixture of sugar and vinegar. The little disadvantage of this substitute is that it may not possess the purest flavor of ginger.
Grated ginger is also available in Asian markets.
Crystallized ginger is often referred to as candied ginger. It’s way different from ginger, and it has particular uses as a vital ingredient of a dish. Candied ginger is sweeter than the rest of the ginger products since it is coated with sugar. This is best used for baked goods like cookies and cakes. Plus, it can also be consumed as a healthy snack. Though this is not as strong as other forms of ginger substitute, you can still find the gingery taste you’re looking for.
Galangal is a cousin to the same plant family as ginger and turmeric. The root is widely used in Southeast Asian countries, especially in Thai curry dishes. The market forms of these are sold as fresh galangal root, ground or powdered root, or dried root.
Sometimes, galangal root is often mistaken as a ginger root. These two rhizomes should not be confused because they differ in taste. Ginger root tastes pungent, spicy, and less sweet while galangal root tastes citrusy sharp with a kick of menthol.
If you’re only after the flavor that is almost like the ginger root, you can use grounded galangal. Grounded galangal is light in color. Thus, it will barely give color to your dish.
Allspice is a native to the Greater Antilles of South Mexico. This spice is derived from the dried unripe berry of a mid-canopy tree called Pimenta dioica. Other names of allspice are myrtle pepper, pimenta, Jamaica pepper, or pimento. Now, the cultivation of allspice has reached countries with warm climates.
Allspice can serve as a suitable replacement for ginger. It has a mildly sweet flavor with a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. You can use this allspice for your meat and vegetable dishes, pickled products, teas, cakes, pies, cookies, and ketchup.
To substitute ginger with allspice, use 1/4 teaspoon of allspice for every tablespoon of fresh ginger.
Just in case you are going to use allspice to replace ground ginger, the proportion is 1:1.
3. Pumpkin spice
Some might think that pumpkin spice is made out of pumpkins. Well, it’s not at all. The reason it is called pumpkin spice is that it is intended to be used as a flavoring for pumpkin pies.
What’s in pumpkin spice? It’s a pre-made mixture of ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.
A pinch of pumpkin spice can replace your missing ginger since especially that powdered ginger is part of its ingredients. Note that using pumpkin spice will slightly alter your dish’s taste and flavor, but it will still work fine.
Mace is the outer lacy and fleshy coating that hugs the nutmeg. Its flavor is often described as warm and aromatic, almost like ginger.
Use mace as a ginger substitute for savory meat and vegetable dishes, sweets, and baked goods—a use of 1:1 proportion in replacing ginger to mace.
If you’re after the warm flavor from ginger, a pinch of cinnamon can do the trick. Cinnamon is a warm and sweet spice that is derived from the bark of the cinnamon tree. You can use cinnamon as a substitute in many savory dishes that uses ginger.
Use ground cinnamon in place of ginger in the same proportions as allspice. For instance, for every tablespoon of ginger, use 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Nutmeg is a globally known spice that is known for its warm, aromatic, and nutty flavor. It is a spice that works well in sweet and savory dishes.
Either ground or grated, replace ginger to nutmeg, just like how allspice and cinnamon are used.
Although the fresh ginger root is available all-year-round, you’ll never know when you’ll run out of it in your kitchen.
You can replace fresh ginger root with other preserved or processed ginger products like ground ginger, pickled ginger, ginger paste, minced ginger, grated ginger, or crystallized ginger. Just know which of the abovementioned substituted will work best for your dish.
If you feel a little adventurous and want to explore unique flavors beyond what ginger can give you, try galangal, allspice, pumpkin spice, mace, cinnamon, or nutmeg.