According to yesterday’s edition of The Times, the popularity of ginger is rising. We Brits have always loved lashings of ginger beer, and sweet treats like ginger biscuits and Jamaica ginger cake are ever-popular mainstays.
But now, apparently it’s gaining momentum in savoury dishes too as British cuisine becomes more global, diverse, and even gentrified. Waitrose has reported a small increase of 5.8% in the sales of crystallised stem ginger, while sales of their Wensleydale with ginger have gone up by 10%. The sales of ginger beer itself have also doubled in the past six months.
So what can we attribute this to? Some say it’s ginger’s health benefits, while others attribute the change to the intensifying interest in Asian cuisine, which traditionally uses plenty of the stuff (and perhaps it’s no coincidence that another Ching-He Huang series is currently airing on the BBC). In all honesty, this is probably how I mostly use ginger: when finely chopped or grated, it adds perfect zing and contrast to stir-fries and other Chinese dishes.
I also enjoy munching on the candied stuff (and no, it doesn’t have to come covered in sugar!): its sweet-meets-spicy flavour is really appealing around snack time, and it staves off hunger cravings for that bit longer, as well as acting as a natural painkiller if you have a bit of a headache or travel sickness or a touch of period pain or whatever.
However, those who know me know that I’m a dessert fiend at heart, and ginger biscuits make an excellent base for any cheesecake you happen to be making. I also love making my own gingerbread men (complete with currants for eyes) and pepperkakor always goes down well at Christmas. Finally, as the sun seems to be out now (hooray!) those of us possessing ice-cream makers can surely see the potential for ginger ice-cream. Ginger beer can also be made into perfect ice-lollies for warmer weather, and ginger cake also provides the perfect twist on a classic summer dessert, tiramisu. Better get going and make some of these before the sun goes in…