Types of Ginger Root

Ginger root is a spicy root vegetable, used popularly in Near- and Far-East Asian cooking. It's also lauded as a medicinal herb, used for everything from cold prevention to a digestive soother. There are three primary types of ginger; the most common type found in American supermarkets is Zingiber officinale.

  1. White Ginger

    • White ginger refers to the way ginger root, Zingiber officinale, is prepared. When ginger root is pulled out of the ground, it must be processed to prevent the root from sprouting. The first process produces white ginger, and the second produces black. White ginger root involves cleaning and peeling the ginger root, exposing the white flesh.

    Black Ginger

    • Black ginger, like white ginger, is also a type of ginger root preparation to prevent the root from grounding. Black ginger is produced by boiling, or scalding, the ginger while it's in its skin.

    Thai Ginger

    • Thai ginger is also known as fingerroot, galangal or Boesenbergia rotunda. It's used in Thai and Chinese cooking, and is made into an oil called "plai oil" for medicinal use.

    Wild Ginger

    • Wild ginger is a third type of ginger, with no relation to Zingiber officinale or galangal. It refers to several wild plants that have the spicy ginger flavor of the aforementioned gingers. These wild plants include Alpinia caerulea, which is native to Australia; Asarum caudatum, whic can be found in North America; and Asiasarum sieboldi, which is from North America, Europe and Asia. All have been referred to as wild ginger.

    Ways to Preserve Ginger

    • The most widely used type of ginger, the ginger root, is prepared several ways for cooking and medicinal use. Ginger root can be dried, either with the skin on or off, powdered, sliced and pickled, and crystallized, which turns ginger into a sweet sugar syrup used for ginger candies.

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  • Photo Credit A knob of ginger root, Zingiber officinale, and a jar of pickled ginger (photo by Rachel Asher)

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