Ginger and turmeric find a spot in local farms – and local kitchens.
Think ginger and turmeric are tropical roots? They’re being grown right here in Minnesota. Unlike the gnarled, tough fibrous rhizomes shipped in from tropical regions, these are mild, fragrant and so much easier to use.
Fresh ginger is a beautiful, completely edible plant. Chop the leaves and shoots to simmer into a tea or to flavor a stock. Wrap the leaves around fish for poaching, stuff the shoots into a chicken’s cavity before roasting, chop and toss the leaves into salads and stir-fries.
Fresh turmeric, like ginger, does not need to be peeled. Simply chop and toss it into curries, soups, stews and teas. It’s especially delicious with carrots. Its flavor is mildly woodsy and earthy, just a tad bitter, so add it to a dish slowly, adjusting to taste.
Happily, for me, whose market basket often overflows with too much great stuff, both these roots are very easy to freeze. Simply rinse them thoroughly to remove the dirt. Gently break the ginger apart to clean the crevices and cut off the stems. Pack and store the clean roots in a zip-top bag in the freezer. To use the frozen roots, remove and grate or chop, then add to the recipe. Both ginger and turmeric are terrific baked into cookies, gingerbread, apple and cranberry pies and cakes.
Several local farms are having a great year for both fresh ginger and turmeric so we’ll find them at winter’s markets, as well as at food co-ops. These new foods are redefining what it means to eat local. As Alex Liebman of Stone’s Throw said, “Growing new crops keeps things challenging. Ginger is one of the crops that provide excitement and variety for growers and cooks.”
Aromatic Ginger-Turmeric Rice
Serves 3 to 4.
Note: Here’s a fragrant side dish for roast chicken or pork. Toss in cooked shrimp and you have a quick and easy meal. Local fresh ginger and turmeric are available at food co-ops and winter farmers markets. From Beth Dooley.
• 1 c. jasmine rice
• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 1/4 c. minced shallot
• 2 tbsp. peeled and chopped fresh ginger
• 1 tbsp. peeled and chopped fresh turmeric (or 1 1/4 tsp. dried turmeric)
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 1/2 c. water
• 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
• 1/4 c. dried cranberries
• 1/4 c. toasted sunflower seeds
• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and sauté the shallot, ginger and turmeric until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, salt and 1 1/2 cups water, increase the heat and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Allow the rice to stand for about 2 minutes before tossing in the lime juice, cranberries and sunflower seeds. Sprinkle on the parsley or cilantro right before serving.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 290 Fat 8 g
Sodium 600 mg Sat. fat 1 g
Carbs 50 g Calcium 31 mg
Protein 5 g Chol 0 mg
Dietary fiber 3 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 1 ½ other carb, 1 ½ fat.