Ginger can bring a zing to just about any dish with its spicy, sharp, warming effect. You can use fresh ginger in both sweet and savory recipes. Being a powerful anti-carcinogen, fresh ginger not only brings out the flavor in our dishes, but it also hosts health benefits. Both chefs and doctors swear by it.
Think of all the goodness of fresh ginger in refreshing beverages, salads, or even desserts! But what if you don’t have fresh ginger while cooking? Worry not, we have the best substitutes for fresh ginger for you to choose from.
The best fresh ginger substitutes are ground ginger, candied ginger, ground allspice, ground mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, and galangal, which adds the same peppery flavor to your dishes.
Fresh ginger is a rainfed crop, which requires well-fed loamy soil along with warm and humid conditions. Ginger can be harvested after 8 – 9 months when the leaves of the plant start changing their color to yellow and dry out. Hence, being a seasonal crop, the availability of fresh ginger can be a challenge in some parts of the world.
Now before we dive in to discuss the substitutes for fresh ginger, let’s understand where this root vegetable comes from and its many health benefits.
Quick Peek: Fresh Ginger
This section helps you understand ginger as a whole – its flavor and texture profile, nutritional information, and uses.
What Is Fresh Ginger?
Fresh Ginger comes from Southeast Asia. It is the root of a flowering plant. Officially known as Zingiber officinale, it is used all over the world for culinary purposes and its medicinal properties. This fresh root is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It is crowned as a superfood for all the health benefits it brings along.
Describing Fresh Ginger: Flavor and Texture
Ginger, a pantry staple, is sweet and peppery in taste with a pungent aroma, having woody and floral notes. However, with different varieties available in the market, the texture and flavor differ. This root vegetable comes covered with a thin layer of skin that is easy to peel. The root itself is quite hard and fibrous, but at the same time, it’s also moist.
Let me share a few interesting facts you need to know about fresh ginger.
- The plant can grow as high as 3-4 feet.
- It is an herb.
- In its world’s production ranking, India comes at the number one position.
- Ginger sprouts white and pink flower buds that turn into yellow flowers.
- Depending on its variety, the color of the ginger rhizome can be yellow or white.
- Ginger is not only added to a number of recipes; it is also eaten raw in a variety of forms, such as pickles, candies, or slices paired with savory dishes.
Uses of Ginger
As we have read so far, ginger is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many ways. For culinary purposes, ginger is used in different forms. While the root is readily available in supermarkets, other forms include dry ginger, pickled ginger, ground ginger, or candied ginger.
Apart from its culinary use, ginger is used for its medicinal benefits as it contains gingerol, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, ginger has been looked up to for many centuries. To speak of its wide range of health benefits, first and foremost, ginger stimulates digestion and keeps the feeling of indigestion at bay.
It also helps patients with high blood pressure keep their levels in control. Studies show that fresh ginger acts as a vasodilator, i.e., it expands your blood vessels.
Among other things, it reduces nausea and inflammation, positively affects cholesterol levels, contains antibacterial properties, prevents or even treats arthritis, and reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes. One of the major health benefits also includes that ginger is a major immune-supporting system and helps recover from flu and cold.
Why Use Substitutes For Ginger?
After learning the benefits of consuming ginger, you might wonder why we would use substitutes for ginger? Well, while running out of its stock is one of the major reasons to substitute fresh ginger for other options, this root may not suit everyone. If consumed in large quantities, ginger can lead to diarrhea and can affect patients with heart problems.
In pregnant ladies consuming ginger beyond the prescribed quantity can lead to miscarriage and can cause bloating. For some, fresh ginger can also cause mouth irritation due to allergic reactions.
Furthermore, just the spiciness of this herb might not be suitable for everyone’s palette. Now that we have an overview of fresh ginger and its properties let’s explore the best substitutes for ginger.
8 Best Substitutes For Fresh Ginger
1. Dry Ginger
The best alternative to fresh ginger is dry ginger, which is another form of root that has undergone a drying process. This alternative for ginger is made by peeling off the fresh produce and leaving it out for sun drying for a couple of days. Once it is dehydrated, the fresh ginger turns pale white in color. It then comes as a whole, powdered, or in the form of flakes.
In terms of flavor, this type comes closest to the original taste of fresh ginger as no other foreign ingredient has been added to it. However, it lends a more intense taste, and one should use it sparingly. It can be rehydrated in hot water and can easily be used in curries, soups, beverages, spices, and masalas.
2. Ground Ginger
Ground ginger powder is the next best substitute for fresh ginger. One USP of this substitute is that the powder is readily available in stores. The process of making ground ginger includes peeling the fresh ginger roots and placing them in the sun to dehydrate. Once it loses its moisture completely, the dried ginger is pulverized to a fine powder.
Much like dry ginger, ground ginger, too, can be used in many recipes. But most often, it is used for baked goods to provide warm flavors to cakes, pies, and muffins. In savory dishes, one can use ground ginger in marinades and curries. It also makes the best substitute for making hot or cold beverages. With so many uses, ground ginger is indeed one of the best ways to store fresh ginger.
3. Candied Ginger
Used mostly as a medicinal alternative, candied ginger is basically crystallized ginger. It is made by cutting fresh ginger into thin slices and cooking it in sugar syrup. While a bite of candied ginger can be an effective cure for sore throat, indigestion, or cold and cough.
You can also add this sugar-dipped goodness to your baked goods for a flavourful twist. Despite having all the qualities of fresh ginger, the sugar coating delivers a sweeter flavor.
4. Ground Allspice
A warm aromatic spice, the ground allspice comes from the unripened berry of the myrtle pepper tree, which is native to Jamaica and much of Central America. As its name suggests, the allspice tastes like a combination of different spices, including ginger.
And with its earthy and fruity notes, it can be a great alternative to fresh ginger. Again, it can be used in a plethora of recipes due to its fine powder consistency.
With a distinctively pungent and nutty flavor, nutmeg is a seed that makes for a fine swap for fresh ginger. The popular spice is found as both ground and whole alternatives. It can be used in all sorts of savory and sweet dishes.
It blends well in a wide variety of dishes such as pasta, soups, rice, eggs, and many vegetables. Just like ground allspice, nutmeg can also be used in bakery goods to provide a warm taste.
This spice is obtained from the nutmeg tree, which is an Indonesian native tree. It is a quintessential autumn spice that belongs to the family of Myristica fragrans. Coming to its health benefits, nutmeg is packed with nutrients that help treat insomnia, nausea, kidney disease, stomach problems, pains, and diarrhea, to name a few.
A part of the nutmeg, mace is a lacy outer covering of the nutmeg that comes from the same tree. But both differ from each other in flavor and texture. Mace is red in color and it can be used whole or ground. In terms of flavor, nutmeg has a milder taste than mace.
Keeping that quality in mind, mace ranks a little higher than nutmeg when we speak of the flavor it provides, which is closer to fresh ginger. Coming from the same tree, the health benefits of mace are similar to that of nutmeg.
Cinnamon comes from the skin of fragrant cinnamon tree bark. A common household spice, it has a spicy and slightly minty flavor.This makes it the next best substitute for ginger. With its sweet, peppery, nutty and warm aroma, cinnamon can be a great substitute for fresh ginger in baked goods and beverages.
Another easy-to-find root, galangal is considered one of the top staples that one can find in almost any Thai home. It is a type of tropical rhizomatous spice belonging to the same family as ginger, and both rhizomes look similar. However, the skin of galangal is a lot harder than ginger.
If you are looking for some extra does of spice, then galangal will fit right. With a piney and citrusy aroma, galangal makes the perfect replacement for fresh ginger. Galangal is a popular ingredient in much of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
From soups, curries, noodle dishes, and stir-fries, it is pretty much used in all. However, this root spice is a little more expensive than ginger.
Short Recap For Best Fresh Ginger Substitutes
With so many options to choose from, I’m sure you have found a suitable match for fresh ginger. But to give you a clearer picture, let me break down the above-mentioned substitutes to make it easier for you.
Fresh ginger substitutes that are most suitable in flavor:
- Ground Ginger
- Dry ginger
Fresh ginger substitutes that are easily available:
- Ground allspice
How To Substitute Fresh Ginger
Fresh Ginger Substitutes
- Dried Ginger
- Ground Ginger
- Candied Ginger
- Ground Allspice
- Read about all the substitutes mentioned above.
- Choose the substitutes that suits the best.
- Replace fresh ginger with this substitute in the recipe and make sure you use the substitute in required amount.
Fresh Ginger, with its flavor profile, offers many substitutes for one to play with. It is among the healthiest spices on the planet, and with its numerous health benefits, one does not need to think much about its consumption. However, in case of its unavailability, you can easily go for its substitutes that offer similar characteristics.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the health benefits of ginger?
Ginger has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a cure for some diseases, including inflammatory diseases. Packed with antioxidants, it helps in improving skin health and boost immunity. With its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger reduces arthritis pain and increases joint mobility. Studies also show that ginger helps aid weight loss as it boosts metabolism and controls insulin.
What are the side effects of ginger?
If consumed in excess, ginger may include side effects such as heartburn, stomach discomfort, gas, or mouth irritation. One of the negative side effects of ginger also includes heart palpitations. Intake of ginger should be minimized during pregnancy as it could lead to a miscarriage.
Are ginger and galangal the same?
While both the roots come from the same family, there are differences between the two rhizomes in terms of flavor and texture. Ginger comes with a soft skin that is easy to peel, however, the skin of galangal is a lot tougher than ginger. In terms of flavor, galangal has a sharper taste than ginger, and it costs more.