Ginger is native to Southeast Asia and is now also cultivated in Africa, Australia and Jamaica. Ginger was introduced to Europe and the Middle East from the Orient in a dried form, which explains why many dishes call for dried ginger rather than fresh. Ginger is a rhizome (root) and grows underground as a thick, tuberous stem bearing both roots and shoots.
In the Middle Ages, spices were used as currency; a pound of ginger could easily buy you a sheep.
Whole ginger can be used for pickling, beverages (including ginger beer, ale and teas), teriyaki sauce and marinades. It’s important to note that fresh ginger and dried ginger shouldn’t be substituted for one another, but rather, dried whole ginger can be reconstituted. Simply soak in warm water for 1 hour, then use as you would the fresh.
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