January 11, 2012

Homegrown Ginger

About a year or so ago, I purchased some fresh ginger to use for something, I can't remember what now. Anyway, I had a rhizome leftover and wondered whether or not I could plant it. We use a lot of ginger, but being a tropical plant, I didn't know if it was possible to grow in the house. I did a little online research, and finally found good information in Tropical Permaculture's article, "Growing Ginger Root". I decided to give it a try and planted my rhizome in a 2 gallon pot.

It was slow to start, but eventually grew into a pretty potted plant (above). When frost was imminent I brought it indoors, and pretty much left it alone until all the leaves died back. Just a few days ago, I pulled the dead leaves and dug it up. It was lovely because I could smell the ginger even before I got it out of the pot.

I didn't know what to expect, but there were several good size clumps of rhizomes. I should have weighed them, but didn't think about it at the time; it's all in the bowl in the photo on the left. It's not a year's worth for us, but it's a start. Considering how easy it was to grow, growing more will be no problem, though at the moment I'm not set up for many house plants due to our remodeling projects. I ended up replanting two of the budding rhizomes, and washed the rest to make candied ginger.  

I looked at a lot of candied ginger recipes. The two I liked the best were from Alternative Medicine About.com because it was the simplest, and this one, Candied Ginger Simplified, because it was so thorough. I used 2 cups of chopped ginger, 3 cups water, and 1 cup sugar. I looked for a recipe using honey instead of sugar, but didn't find anything satisfactory. Also, I did not peel the ginger, I'm just not into peeling things if it can be helped. If that effects it unpleasantly, I'll peel it next year. 

I simmered it until it was soft, drained, and then dried in a slow oven on a cookie sheet. The last step was to coat with sugar, something I did because it seemed traditional.

We use candied ginger medicinally, because it is excellent for nausea, upset stomach, car sickness, flatulence, or any other digestive problems. It really settles a queasy tummy in a jiffy. I also use a lot of powdered ginger, both in baking and in any herbal formula that might be strong on the stomach, like a fresh garlic drink. I haven't yet mastered fine powdering herbs, so I'll save that project for another year. We use some fresh in various tinctures. It's also an ingredient in several tea blends I buy.

All I'll need to grow a year's worth is a number of large pots. And a place to put them during the winter.  I'll have to keep track of this batch, to get an idea of how long it lasts, and how many rhizomes I'll need to plant. So nice this is so easy to grow.

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I wanted to offer a more comprehensive and detailed guide to growing ginger. Includes chapters on selecting rhizomes, planting, caring for, harvesting, and maintaining a self-sustaining supply. Storage and preservation techniques are discussed, plus how to candy ginger, how to dehydrate and powder it, how to lacto-ferment it, and how to make a ginger bug. Only $1.99. Click here for more information and where to buy.

52 comments:

Renee Nefe said...

I am going to have to try that because I use candied ginger for my turkey brine and they charge a lot for just a tiny bit of the stuff. Of course if I grow my own, I am going to have a ton of it (for our use)...but I think that I'll live. ;o)

Natalie said...

I really really want to try this. I am looking to expand what we can grow ourselves and if I can move this in as a house plant, I think it will be great. Thanks for the resource.

Sherri B. said...

I have often wondered about growing this, and can't wait to get started on a few pots..it might be a great project to do with the grand kiddos. Thanks again for another great, informative post. xo

1st Man said...

oh my gosh, I am SO going to do this. How cool to just get a piece at the store and then have fresh ginger a few months later. Thanks for the tip!

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

This is really timely information! I just posted about my planting my first ginger rhizome about ten minutes ago ;) It's great to see how much to expect for a first harvest...

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Nice. A house plant that does something. I dont use much ginger, but that is good to know it can be grown indoors.

Mother's Moon said...

I would have never thought.. but love the idea and ability to grow ginger for oneself.... thanks for all the good tips... will have to try it out

Serenity Love Sincere Peace Earth said...

It made a pretty house plant!

Carolyn Renee said...

Although I don't care for the taste of ginger in many dishes, that would be a good idea to have around for medicinal purposes. Thanks for sharing!

Leigh said...

Renee, it apparently doesn't take up much space, so even a small pot can grow quite a bit!

Natalie, I love my "exotic" spices, but most of them don't seem very easy to grow (cinnamon, allspice, cloves). This one was a delightful surprise!

Sherri, now's the time of year to plant it too. :)

1st Man, mine took about a year, from planting to harvest. But it is sooo easy, and so worth it!

Tanya, how cool is that!

Jane, and it's pretty too!

Mother Moon, you're welcome. It's wonderful what we learn from one another, isn't it. :)

Serenity, and so easy!

Carolyn, it does have a strong, spicy flavor and we like it, but we mostly use it medicinally.

Jocelyn said...

That's a great idea. I've been mulling that one around for years myself. I'm glad to hear that it worked for you. When I get some space, I will definitely try it!

JeffJustJeff said...

Great post. I'm going to try this. I really want to try a 'medicine garden' this year.

Ngo Family Farm said...

Thanks for posting about this, Leigh! I've tried (and failed) twice to grow ginger. I didn't realize it needed that much time, so I think I gave up on it too quickly! Did you wait for the rhizome to develop shoots before planting it? I have one right now like that (a bit past its prime) and am wondering if I should pot it...

Thanks!
Jaime

Leigh said...

Jocelyn, do! It was a successful experiment.

Jeff, oh yes for a medicine garden. A must for everyone!

Jaime, my rhizome did not have shoots when I planted it, just buds. It was slow to start, and took about a year from planting till harvest. Check out that link. The article there said for a better harvest, wait two years! Obviously needs to be an ongoing project. :)

The Weekend Homesteader said...

What a great project! Once I get the rabbitry done and have my garden shed back, I can move some things out of the greenhouse and perhaps have room for a ginger plant. Something to think about.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

That's terrific! I'm going to think about following suit :o) my problem is sunlight and space too..Maybe I can stop taking that nexium if that recipe works that good for me...

Sylvanna said...

You've inspired me to pay more attention to my windowsill ginger. I moved it away from the cold-right-now window and set it next to the heated fish tank to lean against. Now to think about repotting and hope my cats don't nibble it to death.

Halfhippie.com said...

Well, I'll simply have to give this a try! I also made the assumption that it would not grow in our climate, but perhaps it is a bit more robust than I gave it credit for (at least in the summertime :)

cobaltandindigo said...

What a beautiful plant it turned into! I have attempted to grow ginger in a pot on my front porch, but the darn squirrels in the neighborhood kept digging up the dirt to bury their treasures, and it didn't take. Still worth trying again, I think!

I've been reading your blog on an RSS reader on my phone for a couple of months now, and finally am making it here to comment. What an amazing array of links you have gathered, I had no idea! Very inspiring.

Nina said...

Cool idea! I hadn't ever thought of that. I'll admit, I used candied ginger too cook with, mainly to bump up the taste in ginger or spiced flavoured baked goods. How big a piece did you need to plant? I've never had ginger actual bud out before. How did you keep it so that it started to bud out rather than dry up or mould?

Michelle said...

How exciting; I had no idea it is easy to grow! My son and I both LOVE candied ginger, and I use quite a bit for cooking (including a pinch when starting my bread, as it is supposed to help yeast grow). I have several yummy recipes that call for fresh ginger, which is always expensive here and I rarely use it all before some spoils. :-( So this is perfect!

Judy said...

I can attest to the ease of growing ginger. Do be sure to get the freshest looking piece with a growing tip on it. It does take a bit for it to sprout and keep it watered. I set mine on the front porch after the nights warm up to 50 degrees and bring in when the nights get back down to 50 degrees.

I haven't let mine die back. I will have to try that. I just take a knife and cut out a piece that is close to the surface when I need some for cooking.

I will have to try the candied ginger recipe as I candied citrus peel yesterday and it is good!

luckybunny said...

Oh I have to try this! This was so helpfulm, I had no idea. I've also got to make the candied ginger - it is such a great thing to have on hand like you say for upset tummy, etc. Great post, thanks!

Leigh said...

Candace, oh for a greenhouse! I'm guessing if you could keep it from freezing in there, you could grow ginger.

Ginny, I have those problems too, indoors at least. In the summer, it was happy in a shaded but bright area. And if it helps you physically, who could ask for anything more?

Sylvanna, my cats have ignored it! But who knows with cats. :)

Brian, as long as it gets protected from frost, it should do well.

Cobaltandindigo, thank you for the comment! It's amazing what those phones can do. My links are my information collection. :)

Nina, I reckon it was a rhizome about 3 inches long. I planted it fresh, but I could see the little bumps of the buds. It was slow to sprout, so slow in fact that I wondered if I'd killed it. LOL. Turned out well though.

Michelle, I think as long as it's requirements are met (warmth, rich damp soil and filtered sunlight) it's happy. :)

Judy, thank you for sharing that! The article mentioned harvesting fresh, but I have yet to try that. Perhaps once I get a good stand. I actually don't have any recipes that call for it fresh, because it's so expensive to buy.

Donna, do give it a try. We love to keep candied ginger on hand for that very reason. It's not that easy to find, so growing my own is a great solution!

Allison said...

Thanks for the post! I was thinking of trying this in the spring, and now I definitely will!

dr momi said...

I'm going to try it....growing it and the candied ginger. Thanks.

Stephanie said...

Wow, I had no idea:) Thanks for sharing how it worked. Definitely have me thinking now:)

Sue said...

I bought a chunk of ginger several months ago that had swollen buds, so after I used the bit that I needed for a recipe I stuck the rest of it in an empty pot. My first leaf has finally broken out, and I am so excited about it. You're right, it was incredibly slow, but I'm hoping it will be big enough to spend the summer outside. Congrats on your harvest!

Leigh said...

Allison, it's definitely worth a try if you use ginger!

Jean, I'll look forward to your blogging about it!

Stephanie, pretty neat huh? Now I'm trying to figure out how to grow a year's worth, LOL

Sue, hurray! I wish I'd kept track of how long it took to sprout leaves. I had actually given up on it but just left the pot. I was so delighted when it finally started to grow. Yours should enjoy being outside this summer.

DebbieB said...

Leigh, how much candied ginger do you use for an upset stomach? I'd much prefer a natural remedy to my grown daughter's car sickness. She does like ginger, so she'd be likely to try it.

Leigh said...

Debbie, just start with one piece. That often does the trick. If not, have her eat another. It shouldn't take too many to make a real difference, and with no side effects.

jengod said...

Awesome post! Ginger is just like potatoes!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I love reading your blog, Leigh. I learn so much from you as (by the comments on this post) others do also. When I've bought ginger in the past I put the leftover piece in the freezer as I learned from another blogger. It's still there and it's been a few months. I'm going to get a "fresh" piece at the market today and plant it and patiently watch it grow. Thanks for another great idea!

Anonymous said...

sooo cool! thx for sharing!! i'm gonna do this!!

* Crystal * said...

Well isn't that just nifty! Had no idea ginger would grow as a house plant! I do admit, vegetation isn't my strong suit (I kill plants just by looking at them it seems) but I'm going to give this a try. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

Leigh said...

Jengod, how true! I hadn't thought of it that way, but they are similar. Ginger just has a longer growing season.

Janice, freezing extra ginger would be good too. I hadn't thought of that. If I can get enough of it going though, digging it up fresh as needed would be even better!

Anonymous, you're welcome!

Cyrstal, LOL. Don't tell anybody but I don't do well with potted plants either. Especially don't tell my ginger!

Norma Chang said...

Completely forgot about the piece of ginger I bought at the health food store a couple of weeks ago for starting indoors. Glad I stumbled upon your blog. Must find the ginger and get it planted.

happy momma said...

That's great to know. Now I wish I had that ginger root I let rot because I didn't use it in time and didn't know I could have stuck it in a pot. Oh well, as my papaw always said,"You live and learn".

Grace said...

Another great idea, Leigh, thank you. I had no idea it would make such a pretty houseplant!

The Happy Hippy said...

I love ginger and also grow and candy it. However, I did see something recently about making garlic powder by drying garlic cloves in a dehydrator or overnight in a low oven and then grinding the results in a spice grinder or using a mortar & pestle and wonder if the same would work for ginger? Maybe worth having a go with your next harvest : )

Leigh said...

Norma, welcome and thanks for the comment!

Happy Momma, I agree with your papaw! Happily there is always something interesting to learn. :)

Grace, a beautiful house plant! Looks pretty in a lightly shaded spot in the yard during summer too.

Happy Hippy, I think that's exactly how it's done. Powdered garlic and ginger both, are on my list of things to try next year. :)

Jody said...

Wow! The plant is beautiful and we use plenty of ginger around here. I'm thinking we'll have to give this one a try.

Leigh said...

Jody, it's pretty, and pretty easy to care for. I only wish I was ready to grow more!

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Im with you Jody, I was thrilled to find this posting. I have been wondering where to purchase ginger for growing but just like garlic if you can simply buy it locally, all the nicer! I know what I'm buying at Meijers. :)

Leigh said...

And all thanks to the internet! A simple search, and ginger is growing! :)

Hopewell said...

I've been blog mining today trying to find additional ways to save on food. Ginger is one of my favorite ingredients so I WILL be trying this. Meanwhile, I found this for celery http://chickensintheroad.com/farm-bell-recipes/re-growing-celery/

Leigh said...

Thank you for the celery link! That's something I was wondering about. It's fun to go info hunting, isn't it?

Uncommonskills said...

I made an instructable based upon my experiances with growing ginger as a houseplant. Your blog inspired my growing Ginger, so I provided a link to this page. If you want to visit the instructable, go here http://www.instructables.com/id/Grow-Ginger-as-a-Houseplant/

This is a great post, thank you so much for the inspiration.

www.handsonlife.org

Unknown said...

I read this blog while looking for advice on growing ginger. I routinely keep ginger in my freezer (refrigerator freezer). I always grate a little into bean soup or chili, or just beans, so they won't be gassy. You don't taste the ginger unless you happen to bite on a bigger bit. I also grate it when I make tea (or cut a little bit off) and strain it out when the tea has steeped. I don't understand going to the trouble of making candied ginger for medicinal purposes, but candied ginger is wonderful dipped in chocolate.

Leigh said...

Uncommonskills, thank you! Actually I need to start some more. It's a beautiful plant and a handy plant.

Unknown, I suppose it's what we get used to. :) Great tips for using ginger, many thanks!

Unknown said...

I bought some ginger and it sprouted in my pantry...I was told to place it in a shallow dish, cover with water and see in window sill. Well...it grew for a while but then became coated with a green substance...should I just take it and plant it in soil?

Leigh said...

A green substance like potatoes get when exposed to light? If so, then the green is likely chlorophyll, so yes, by all means plant it! Just don't let it get too cold and it should do well.