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What Can I Use In Place Of Ginger

by Dan Hughes
What Can I Use In Place Of Ginger

What Can I Use In Place Of Ginger

It’s that time again—time to cook up some tasty meals with your favorite spices and herbs. The problem is that many of these flavorful ingredients are not always available at every grocery store. This can make cooking without them more challenging than you might expect. Luckily, there are several alternatives when using one of these popular but hard-to-find flavors. Here are five common flavorings you may be able to replace with something else.
Ginger (fresh)
Fresh ginger has been used throughout history for its medicinal properties and culinary uses. It contains compounds called shogaols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. However, because fresh ginger is so fibrous, grating it becomes difficult. Fresh ginger also requires a fair amount of water for juicing, making dehydration more likely. For this reason, most recipes call for powdered ginger instead of fresh.
Powdered ginger comes in two forms: dried and crystallized. Dried ginger tends to taste like gingerbread while crystallized ginger tastes spicy and sweet. Both work well in place of fresh ginger in equal amounts. You should use less of either if substituting fresh ginger.
Ground Ginger. Ground ginger is made by grinding fresh ginger into a powder. Because of its small particle size, it can easily absorb other flavours such as garlic, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, or mace. Since it’s already packed with flavour, ground ginger works well in any dish where fresh ginger would normally appear.
If you do decide on using fresh ginger, grind 1 tablespoon (about 10 grams) of whole ginger root per cup (240 milliliters) of liquid before adding it to dishes.
Crystallized Ginger. Crystallized ginger is prepared by boiling fresh ginger until it’s soft and then removing the peel. Once peeled, it must undergo an additional process known as “candying”. During candying, sugar syrup is added slowly while being stirred constantly. When the mixture reaches the desired temperature, the heat is turned off and the resulting product is allowed to cool. After cooling, the ginger pieces are removed from the pan and packaged for sale. While crystallized ginger is sweeter than fresh, it still retains a bit of bite. Substitute crystallized ginger by chopping it finely and sautéing it over medium heat with brown sugar or maple syrup.
This herbaceous root grows underground and looks similar to ginger, only larger. Its leaves resemble lemongrass, although they contain no oils. Galanga’s rhizome (underground stem) produces clusters of white flowers resembling lily buds. The inside of the rhizome is creamy white and smells strongly of vanilla. To prepare galangal, remove the outer skin by slicing down the sides of the rhizome and peeling away the thin layer of flesh next to it. Next, slice the peeled rhizome horizontally into quarters, remove the tough central core, and thinly slice the remaining flesh.
Galangal provides a unique fragrance and aroma compared to ginger and other citrus fruits and herbs. It pairs well with warm spices like cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, fennel seed, curry leaf, nutmeg, oregano, thyme, and sage. You can add it to soups, curries, stews, fish, vegetables, rice, beans, eggs, meat, sauces, dressings, dips, and even cocktails. It’s best to buy sliced galangal rather than pre-packed chunks.
Aloe Vera Gel
The aloe vera plant is cultivated worldwide for its ability to heal burns, cuts, blisters, rashes, sores, ulcers, infections, and scar tissue. Aloe juice is derived from its roots and sold commercially. Aloe gel is produced when aloe juice is boiled under pressure. Boiling reduces its viscosity so it can be spread on wounds. It’s important to note that pure aloe products can cause severe allergic reactions. Always check labels to avoid purchasing contaminated gels.
To substitute aloe vera gel for fresh aloe juice, mix together 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of glycerin, 4 teaspoons (20 milliliters) of lemon juice, and 5 drops of essential oil. Glycerin helps to hydrate the wound and prevents itching. Lemon juice aids in infection control and promotes healing. Essential oils promote natural disinfection, prevent bacterial growth, and help reduce pain. Mix the solution just enough so that it will coat your cut, burn, or abrasion; dab directly onto affected area. Cover with bandage or gauze. Repeat daily until healed.
Like ginger, nutmeg is another spice that’s difficult to find in stores unless imported. If you can purchase it, freshly ground nutmeg is preferred over pre-milled. Pre-milling causes the nutmeg kernel to lose its volatile oils. These oils give nutmeg its characteristic scent and flavour. If you prefer nutmeg in powder form, look for whole nutmeg kernels (not pre-cracked). Whole nutmeg kernels are much stronger than their cracked counterparts.
You can substitute nutmeg for most spices. Try replacing it with other strong spices like cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, or ginger. Or try combining nutmeg with other milder spices like basil, bay leaf, black pepper, caraway seeds, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, paprika, rosemary, or tarragon. Just remember to keep the total amount of flavoring low. Too much of anything can become bitter or overpowering.
This yellow spice is native to India and Southeast Asia. Like ginger, turmeric is used as both a food colour and preservative. Most people know turmeric for its bright orange hue, however, it actually possesses multiple colours including red, green, blue, and purple. These hues come from the presence of pigments called bromocondenses. Although they don’t affect the taste of the spice, the vividness does lend itself nicely to desserts. Turmeric also adds a subtle earthy tone to foods.
Replacing turmeric is easy since it’s commonly included in chilies, pickles, and curry powders. Try mixing it with other spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, garlic, ginger, or mustard. Add it to vegetable dishes like carrots, potatoes, onions, peas, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, squash, or zucchini. You can also sprinkle it on meats like chicken, beef, lamb, pork, or fish along with lentils, legumes, chickpeas, or hummus. Finally, it goes great with Indian-style yogurt.
Cardamom is a fragrant evergreen shrub grown exclusively in tropical regions. It’s harvested by hand during the first year after planting. The pods are opened once they’re mature and ready for extraction. They weigh about 0.5 ounces each (15 grams), providing approximately 3 to 4 pods per serving.
Smell and taste wise, cardamom resembles ginger and is often paired with cinnamon. The spice blends well with warm spices like cumin, coriander, cloves, or ginger. You can use it in drinks, desserts, cakes, cookies, jams, pastries, pies, puddings, and beverages.
There are dozens of types of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon, true cinnamon, cassia, and mixed are among the most popular varieties. Ceylon cinnamon accounts for 90 percent of cinnamon sales around the world. True cinnamon is named so due to its bark looking like actual cinnamon sticks. Cassia is a type of cinnamon used predominantly in China and Indonesia. Mixed cinnamon consists of various combinations of these three types.
Replacing cinnamon is simple. Use the dominant variety in your favourite dessert. Experiment with a few new variations to see what suits your palate best. You can also combine cinnamon with other spices like cloves, cardamom, or nutmeg. Try sprinkling it on top of salads, oatmeal, cereal, rice pudding, applesauce, muffins, waffles, pancakes, breads, scones, ice cream, or yogurt.
Although mint doesn’t provide any noticeable smell, its leaves are highly aromatic and possess numerous health benefits. Mint leaves contain menthol, linalool, camphor, eucalyptol, thujone, etc., which are responsible for its distinctive scent. Menthol makes it feel cool and soothing to sensitive mucous membranes. Linalool improves sleep quality and induces relaxation. Camphor offers relief against coughs, colds, and congestion. Eucalyptol eases muscle spasms, sore throats, and respiratory problems. Thujone relieves nausea and vomiting. Other constituents include citral, pinene, limonene, myrcene, pulegone, and safrole.
Mint is great in teas, infusions, rubs, salads, dressing, and garnishes. There are hundreds of varieties of mint

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