Favorite Cold Weather Spice: Ginger

Whether we're craving a handful of gingersnaps or just want to perk up a lemon-whiskey toddy, ginger is our spice of choice when the weather turns chilly outside. It's spicy-sweet flavor refreshes us after a long day and warms us to our toes! What's your favorite way to use ginger this time of year?Ginger is one of the most versatile spices we know. It's pungent citrus-like flavor is a compliment to many ingredients, both sweet and savory! We absolutely love it in our holiday cakes and cookies, but then we'll also throw a teaspoon or two into long braises and savory root vegetable gratins.

Careful, though - ginger can quickly go from being a tantalizing back-note to overpowering the entire dish! Powdered ginger is actually more powerful than fresh thanks to a chemical reaction that happens during the drying process. We usually start seasoning a dish with a half teaspoon of powdered ginger or a teaspoon of fresh, taste, and add more as we go.

That spicy heat-inducing quality in ginger actually comes from a chemical relative of chili's capsaicin. It's nowhere near as potent, but a good dose of ginger will definitely make our mouths hot and our toes tingle! Slow, gentle cooking breaks down the hot chemical and mellows out the flavor.

Here are some of our favorite ginger-ific recipes for right now!

Hot Apple Ginger Toddy
Sweet Potato Soup with Miso and Ginger
Ginger Cinnamon Caramels
Slow-Cooked Hoisin and Ginger Pork Wraps
Ginger Applesauce Cake

What are your favorite ginger dishes?

Related: Ingredient Spotlight: What is Galangal?

(Image: Flickr member heymrleej licensed under Creative Commons)

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