Last January, we started a series meant to showcase every essential oil derived from a plant root. We’re bringing that series back, starting with a spicy ingredient that serves as a staple in most kitchens.
For most, there’s nothing unfamiliar about ginger. You can find the root in almost any grocery store, and even at some farmer’s markets, depending on the local climate. Its taste has a unique and unmistakable bitey flavor that adds what I would describe as a sweet heat. It’s a staple in many curries and stir-fries, and it blends impeccably well with sugary concoctions.
My dad is a big fan of ginger, so growing up there was always some kind of ginger treat around the house. When I left for college, he snuck a 12 pack of my ginger ale and my favorite gala apples in my car. One time he ordered a few pounds of ginger chew candies online, not knowing exactly how much it would be. Three giant boxes packed to the brim with tiny candies arrived on the doorstep. I still reap the benefits of that order every time I visit, as his stock continues to overflow into candy dishes throughout his home.
There are lots of ways one can eat ginger, and some of those include medicinal options. Ginger is scientifically proven to help with nausea related to chemotherapy, seasickness, and morning sickness. It’s also known to help with things like indigestion, muscle soreness, and osteoarthritis.
This rhizome has been used for centuries all across the globe, in everything from landscaping to ayurvedic medicine to lentil curries. It’s an easy plant to grow, and you can start it straight from the store-bought root. Just soak an organic root in water overnight, and plant it in fertile soil the next day. With regular watering, you should see some green sprouting up within a week or two. I prepared a ginger plant for my dad for his birthday once, years ago, and he still has it. Its name is Chad, and it has provided spicy flavors for several gingery dishes.
Whether you grow it or buy it at your local grocery, hang on to that ginger root. You have options. I like to steep a half-inch of grated ginger root along with some lemon and honey for a fresh ginger tea in the evenings. You could also infuse some of your favorite honey with ginger over time for a spicy addition to teas, toasts, and baked goods. If you want a more long-term ginger project, consider making homemade ginger beer.
Ginger carries the same “pow!” as an essential oil as it does when it’s in a dish, so if you’ve ever cooked with ginger you’re already halfway to using it in a homemade perfume blend. It goes nicely with earth scents like cedarwood and patchouli, other spices like cinnamon, or bright, citrus oils. As a top note, ginger will make a showy first impression.
There’s no mixing required in a ready-to-wear scent like Silver Ginger or Shocking!, where ginger is combined with the perfect amount of citrus for a lively perfume. You can see all of our blends that contain ginger here.
By Katrina Eresman