Ginger root and cayenne pepper have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and culinary preparation. Ginger is a thick, beige, knotty stem, with ribbing along the sides. Cayenne pepper is made from dried chili peppers that have been ground up. The capsaicin in the pepper is what gives it a spicy flavor and also its medicinal benefits.
Ginger root's most important components are phenol and volatile oils. It has been used for centuries as medicine throughout Asia, India and the Middle East. Ginger has been grown in Asia for culinary purposes for at least 4,400 years. For more than 2,000 years it has been used in China to treat stomach ailments.
Cayenne pepper is from the Cayenne region of French Guiana, and is now mostly grown throughout the United States, India, East Africa and Mexico. Chilies were first originated in South America in prehistoric times.
Medicinal Use for Ginger
There are several medical uses for ginger still touted today. It is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration and is sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. It is is mainly recommended for digestive and stomach problems, such as nausea or vomiting connected with withdrawal, pregnancy, cancer treatments, motion sickness or digestive problems. The medical form of ginger historically was called Jamaica ginger. It was classified as a stimulant and carminative, or gas reliever, and used frequently for dyspepsia and colic. It has been shown to help soothe arthritis and prevent diarrhea, and has possible properties for treating heart disease. Ginger is used as an antacid, antifungal, antioxidant and antiseptic, and also for brewing in tea, and treating colds, congestion, coughs and cramping. In the West, powdered, dried ginger root capsules are sold in pharmacies for medicinal use, while in places like China and Burma, ginger is boiled and made into drinks to prevent sickness. In India, ginger is used to relieve headaches when made into a paste and rubbed into the temples.
Medicinal Use for Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is used for many medical purposes, as well. Cayenne's primary chemical constituents include capsaicin, capsanthin, beta carotene, flavonoids and vitamin C. If ingested regularly, it aids the cardiovascular system, helping lower the rate of cardiovascular disease. It reduces cholesterol levels, helps aid conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, including stomachaches, cramps and gas. It is used traditionally to treat diseases of the circulatory system. It is also rubbed into the skin in some cultures, as a remedy for arthritis pains, acting as a counter-irritant. Cayenne pepper is also know to increase the metabolism, help with weight loss and release endorphins in the brain. Cayenne pepper is an ideal source of calcium, manganese and fiber.
Culinary Use for Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has been used as a spice in cooking almost as long as it has been used for medicinal purposes. It is often employed in preparation of sea foods, like salmon, scallops, crab, lobster and oysters. It is regularly added to eggs for souffles or omelets, and is often an ingredient in thick stews and soups. Cayenne is preferred by many in heavy meat dishes, or for dusting meats or pasta after the dish is already prepared. It goes well with cheese and sauces, especially with grilled, barbecued or smoked foods. It is an ingredient of Worcestershire sauce and is frequently used in curries.
Culinary Use for Ginger
Ginger needs to be peeled before its eaten, and comes in fresh form or powdered spice form. It is used often in tea, marinades and sauces, especially with vinegar.
Young ginger has a mild taste, while older ginger is tough and very pungent, especially the juices. Ginger is frequently used in Asian, Indian and Chinese dishes. It goes great with vegetarian cuisine and meats. It is also a food preservative and has been proven to kill the harmful bacteria salmonella.
Fresh ginger is much more potent than ground, powdered ginger, which is used for flavoring things such as gingerbread, cake, beer, ale and crackers. Ginger is also made into crystallized and gummy candies. Fresh ginger is one of the main spices used for making lentil curries and other vegetable preparations. In Asian dishes, ginger is added to meats, especially poultry and seafood. The most common Asian dish in the Western hemisphere is the traditional Korean kimchi, in which ginger is finely minced and added to the ingredients of the spicy paste just before the fermenting process.