Behind the Seasoning: Ginger - Ground & Crystallized
A little zingy, slightly earthy, and a punch of flavor is what you get when you taste ginger. The bumpy root takes on a new life when it transforms into a ground spice and when it is crystallized into bite-sized, candied ginger pieces.
But what is the difference between fresh ginger and crystallized ginger? Essentially, crystallized ginger is cooked and candied fresh ginger. They have very similar flavors but entirely different uses. Read on for more information about ginger differences and how to use fresh ginger, ground ginger, and candied ginger.
What Does Ginger Taste Like?
Don’t let the look of ginger root turn you off from the spice. The rather bumpy and twisted stringy root is rich and bright in flavor. While it’s sometimes called root ginger, it’s actually a rhizome, or root stem, rather than a root. Rhizomes are stalky and fibrous, as they store usable starches that ensure the longevity of the plant. Regardless of whether it’s fresh, candied or dried, ginger has a peppery, sweet, and pungent taste.
Crystallized ginger is a wild ride for your tastebuds. Little pieces of root ginger are crystallized in a cane sugar syrup. Our sliced crystallized ginger and cubed crystallized ginger both have a sweet yet sharp taste. Sliced crystallized ginger can taste sweeter just because there’s more surface area for the sugar to stick to.
What does ginger seasoning taste like?
Ground ginger, also known as ginger powder, doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to ginger flavor. Like most ground spices, the flavor can change a bit, becoming slightly muted or toned down. Ground ginger shares the same qualities as root ginger, making it pungent, sharp, and subtly sweet. It has the same qualities but can be used and stored more easily. You might know ginger from its namesake cookie, gingersnaps, or gingerbread. But ginger can be combined with other spices for seasonings that are great for cooking curries and ginger seasonings for baked goods, as it pairs excellently with other warming spices.
What Spice, Seasoning, and Flavors Pair Well with Ginger?
Because of its warm and peppery qualities and complexity, ginger works excellently in both sweet and savory dishes. It pairs well with many other ingredients, spices, and flavor profiles. When used in recipes for baking, ginger is excellent in combination with other warming spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. You’ll also see it paired with citrus, which brings out the zesty notes of ginger. When added to savory dishes, it pairs well with pepper, garlic, and paprika and is used in a variety of cuisines.
Are There Health Benefits of Ginger?
Ginger not only makes food taste better, but it also makes you feel better. There are many benefits to adding ginger to your diet. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, prevents nausea, alleviates joint pain and stiffness, and treats indigestion. It even has properties that will reduce menstrual pain, lower cholesterol, reduce cancer risk, and improve brain function.
How and Where to Buy Ginger?
Our store has your ground and crystallized ginger needs covered. We sell both online but if you’d rather check out our ginger in the store, head to our store locator to see where you can check out the spices in person.
If you are looking for fresh ginger root, on the other hand, you can find it in most local markets and grocery stores. When buying ginger, head to the produce section. Look for thick pieces with smooth skin and a robust fragrance when you hold the root near your nose. Pieces that are firm and feel weighty will also be solid pieces of ginger. If the pieces look a bit wrinkly, skip those, as it is a sign of an older piece, which means it won’t hold up in flavor and will be harder to use. In case you don’t already know, the skin is surprisingly easy to peel off, just scrape it off with a spoon.
If you have a green thumb, you could turn your little piece of ginger into an endless amount of flavor. Next time you have a small piece of ginger, plant it in a small pot near a sunny window and give it plenty of water. The root will grow in the dirt, sprouting new arms from the root that you can cut off. When ready to use it, lift it out and snap off what you need. Place it back in the dirt to continue the growth pattern.
Where and how to buy crystallized ginger
Crystallized ginger may be a little trickier to find in the market. It is typically located in the baking section or near the bulk supply with nuts or seeds. Our store sells both cubed and sliced crystallized ginger, so make a note for the next time you need it. When buying crystallized ginger, look for pieces that aren’t brittle or dried out. They should have a bit of bend (if sliced) or slight give when you press on them (if cubed).
What is Ground Ginger versus Crystallized Ginger?
The most popular ways to use the root are in the ground and crystallized variety. While they are the two most popular, their uses are very different. Ground ginger is versatile and used in everything from baked goods to curries and stir-fry. Crystalized ginger, however, can be eaten right from the package, used in trail mix, baked in cookies and other baked goods, or used as a garnish in cocktails.
To make ground ginger, ginger root is dehydrated into a powder. You can make ground ginger yourself in a few different ways but commercially available pre-ground ginger is made to maximize the taste, so it is bold and flavorful. The root can be baked in an oven at very low heat or put in a dehydrator. The roots can also be left out in the sun for several days, where they will naturally dry. When the roots are dry, they can be ground into a fine powder used for cooking or blending with other spices for ginger seasoning.
What is ground ginger used for?
Ground ginger can be used for both sweet and savory cooking and is used in a variety of different cuisines. When it is used in baked goods, it is often paired with other warming spices such as nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom, creating a soothing and sweet aromatic flavor. When used in savory cooking, it adds a peppery zing to whatever it is in. It is slightly sweet, warm with a hint of heat, and pungent. It is an excellent spice to add to curries, soups, stir-fry, and proteins.
What can be substituted for ground ginger?
In many cases, the best substitute for ground ginger is fresh ginger (and the reverse is also true). Check below for exact amounts. But if you’re completely out of ginger and need a substitute, don’t worry — while no flavor is a perfect match, there are a bunch of spices that can help replicate its flavor. First, check your recipe and think about what type of recipe it is and what other spices and ingredients are in it.
When baking, you can use allspice, cardamon, or nutmeg. To add that peppery flavor, try a sparse pinch of ground pepper. In savory recipes, turmeric or galangal will also be a solid replacement. If you want that kick of heat that ginger adds, a small bit of mustard powder can give some of the same spicy qualities. While the substitution will not be exact, these spices will help fill in for the missing flavor in whatever you are cooking or baking.
Fresh ginger to ground ginger ratio
Even though ground ginger comes from fresh ginger, they do not have a 1:1 ratio. As with most dried spices, the flavor is more intense than fresh. So, you’ll use a smaller amount of ground ginger than you would fresh. About ¼ of a teaspoon of ground ginger is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger.
Crystallized Ginger (Sliced or Cubed)
If you love sweets and ginger is at the top of your spice list, crystallized ginger will quickly become a favorite. Fresh ginger is first peeled and then cut into thin slices or chunky cubes. The pieces of ginger are then candied in a sugar syrup to make chewy pieces. This is why crystallized ginger is also known as candied ginger. Crystalized ginger has many uses and can even be eaten on its own as a spicy-sweet snack!
What is crystallized ginger used for?
Sliced crystallized ginger, candied slices or strips of ginger, can be chopped into smaller pieces. Here’s a helpful hint! For easy slicing, rub a bit of oil on your knife first to keep the candied pieces from sticking. Reapply oil as needed. Sliced crystallized ginger is great for adding to baked goods, especially when sliced into smaller strips.
Cubed crystallized ginger is snackable! The pieces are thicker and can be more difficult to cut but are great for trail mixes or for adding to a cheese plate or charcuterie board. Both sliced and cubed ginger also make a great, unique garnish for a cocktail or mocktail.
What can be substituted for crystallized ginger?
We hate to break it to you but there’s not a great substitute for crystallized ginger, because you’re looking for both flavor and texture. If you need to find a flavor replacement, your best bet will be fresh or ground ginger with a touch of sugar. Just remember that you’re losing out on the chunky, chewy texture. But consider swapping in dried apricots or other fruit with a pinch of ginger for flavor.
Ground Ginger Recipes
There are so many recipes to make to highlight ginger. Here are some of our favorites that use ground ginger…they light up the tastebuds!
Sweet Recipes: Sweet recipes and ground ginger go hand in hand. Pairing ground ginger with other warming spices to make baked goods is super comforting, especially during the cozy fall season.
- Chinese Five Spice Carrot Cupcakes: You’ll never want to make traditional carrot cake again after trying these cupcakes. Chinese Five Spice, paired with ground ginger, is a combination that blows all other spices out of the water.
- Orange Spice Cookies: Forget the snickerdoodle cookies — these orange spice cookies are here to take over. Fresh orange zest, along with Ground Supreme Saigon Cinnamon, Ground Madagascar Cloves, and ground ginger makes cookies that are perfect for the fall and holiday seasons.
- Grandma Menard’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie: Would it really be autumn without a slice of pumpkin pie? The traditional pie gets a classy remix from our co-founder, Janet Johnston’s grandmother.
- Sangria Celebration Cake: For your next holiday gathering, ditch the fruitcake and go with a Sangria Celebration Cake. The rich dessert is basically like sangria in cake form, featuring all the best fruity flavors.
Savory Recipes: Use ground ginger to give these savory meals a spice that is pungent, zingy, and a little sweet. Ginger is a great way to add a little kick to any season.
- BBQ Pork & Pineapple Stir-Fry: Ginger pairs perfectly with pineapple to make this stir-fry a hit. To complement the ground ginger, pork and vegetables are cooked in Midwestern Sweet Barbecue Sauce and sprinkled with Sweet Sesame Stir-Fry Veggie Shaker seasoning.
- Korean Beef & Broccoli Bowl: The next time you need a fast, weeknight dinner, make this super-easy beef and broccoli. It cooks up in a flash and is packed full of flavor.
- Slow Cooked Caribbean Spiced Ribs: Don’t let the cook time on these ribs discourage you from making them. The low and slow cook, along with the Barrier Reef Caribbean Mix Seasoning, Liquid Tamarind Paste Concentrate, Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, and ground ginger, give these ribs a restaurant-quality flavor.
- Apple-Ginger Wild Rice: Simple doesn’t have to be boring; just look at this three-ingredient rice. It is sweet, tangy, and the perfect companion to any main course. You can also jazz it up by adding fruits and nuts to turn it into a quick pilaf.
Drinks: Ginger isn’t just for food. It is a great compliment to smoothies, mocktails, cocktails, and immunity-boosting shots.
- Tropical Turmeric Smoothie: Start your morning with a bright zing of flavor thanks to this smoothie. Ground Turmeric Powder shines alongside ginger and cinnamon to make an immunity-boosting smoothie.
- Herbal “Seed” Tea Blend: Soothe your throat with this herbal “tea”. The steamy drink uses some of our favorite spices, including Fennel Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, and ground ginger to make a tea that will wake up your tastebuds without the caffeine.
- Hotshot Toddy: Do yourself a favor and make a double batch of this spice mixture. Stir it into milk for a comforting, hot beverage or mix it with water to make an immunity-boosting shot to drink daily.
- Green Peach Ginger Smoothie: Don’t let the green color turn you off. The greens add to its flavor, which is sweetened with frozen peaches and Honey Powder. A bit of Greek yogurt makes it tangy and creamy.
Recipes with Crystallized Ginger
While many ideas for using crystallized ginger include Baking Recipes, it can also be used to infuse flavor into sauces and drinks or added to chutneys.
Sliced Crystallized Ginger: While our sliced crystallized ginger can be eaten on its own, it can also be paired with other ingredients. The sweet yet sharp flavor adds a bite that is unexpected, in the best way possible.
- Molasses Crinkle Cookies: Dominate your cookie swap this with these Molasses Crinkle Cookies. The chunk of ginger on top of the cookies makes these cookies feel like a holiday gift.
- Chai Apple Turnovers: Apples get spiced up with our Mt. Baker Chai Seasoning and Vanilla Bean Sugar to make these turnovers a standout on the dessert table or a late summer picnic.
- Vanilla Bean Hot Toddy: Sliced crystallized ginger is the perfect garnish for this warming winter cocktail.
- Chai Snow Party Mix: Elevate your trail mix to the next level. Cereal, pretzel, almonds, and coconuts are mixed with crystalized ginger, Mt. Baker Chai Seasoning, and Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar for a flavorful party snack.
Cubed Crystallized Ginger: The tiny cubes are sweet and sharp, making them excellent to add to baked goods or sauces for an unexpected punch of flavors.
- Sugared Cardamom Pears: Desserts don’t have to be all about cookies and cakes. One bite of these sugared cardamom pears, and you’ll understand why.
- Cranberry Ginger Relish: Switch up the flavors next Thanksgiving with this cranberry ginger relish. It upgrades your traditional cranberry sauce in the best way possible.
- Ras el Hanout Bundt Cake with Tahini Yogurt: There is no lack of flavor when it comes to this bundt cake. Seriously, it is baked with Ras el Hanout and topped with cubed crystallized ginger for a party in your mouth.
- Roasted Pear & Pineapple Summer Salsa: Give your salsa a light summer makeover with this recipe. Add it to chicken, fish, or even dip into chips for a packed bite.
For more inspiration, browse our Baking Recipes. For more flavor, shop our Essential Kitchen Spices & Seasonings for Everyday Use. Share your favorite uses below or tag us on Instagram (@savoryspiceshop).