Monday, September 1, 2014

Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market: Locale Flavor

One of the coolest things about visiting a farmers' market is the opportunity to try new things and, sometimes even be on the cutting edge of a new ideas, new foods, and niche crops, like the wild ramps we had in May from Bird's Haven Farms, personal-sized melons from Bird's Haven Farms and Bridgman Farm, and now, young ginger from Swainway Urban Farm.

With it's distinctive pink and white appearance, young ginger is fast becoming an early fall treat. Tender and juicy with a mild flavor that is present, but doesn't overpower, young ginger is harvested when the ginger is just a few months old.

Swainway Urban Farm's Joseph Swain says, "Young ginger has a much sweeter, less bitter flavor with a wider range of uses."

Since, by its nature young ginger doesn't travel well when shipped, it can't be grown very far afield - so locally grown is best. As North Carolina's East Branch Ginger's Susan Anderson explains, "It really has to be grown in a local radius to be marketed very soon after harvest."

Young ginger does not have to be peeled. You can use young ginger the way you would use mature ginger in any recipe.

Young ginger can be frozen. Swainway Urban Farm's Rachel Tayse Baillieul tells us, "We experimented with preserving the ginger last year and found that it keeps about three weeks in the fridge, six months in a ziploc bag in the freezer, and a year in the deep freeze in a vacuum sealed bag. Some customers preserve it by keeping the whole chunk submerged in sherry at room temperature."

Young ginger can be candied or pickled and can be used as an ingredient...

▪ in complementary form with fruits like pears, cranberries, plums, and figs
▪ in Asian Salad
▪ to make Gari, a condiment to serve with sushi and sashimi
▪ in Soup and Stews
▪ in Stir Fry
▪ in Sauces
▪ in Beverages
▪ in Baked Goods (Gingerbread, Ginger Snaps, Cookies)
▪ Grated onto Salads
▪ Grated with Grated Carrots
▪ in Glazes
▪ Or use young ginger in a syrup, like this recipe from Swainway Urban Farm:

Ginger Raw Honey Syrup

Makes: 3-4 cups Time: 45 minutes
2 cups scrubbed fresh baby ginger, chopped
4 cups water
3/4-1 1/2 cups raw local honey, to taste

1. Gently simmer ginger and water in a heavy bottomed pan for 30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
2. Pour ginger tea through a strainer to discard ginger pieces.
3. Add honey and stir vigorously.
4. Store in the refrigerator. Use as a base for ginger ale, cocktail mixer, addition to hot tea, or sip as a health tonic.

Swainway Urban Farm's young ginger is $14 per pound; you don't need much young ginger to do a lot, and most by-the-piece purchases run around $4 or less. Check with Rachel at Swainway Urban Farms at the market for recommendations on how much ginger you'll need for the Ginger Honey Syrup.

To learn more about young ginger:

Harmonious Homestead article by Rachel Tayse Baillieul 

NPR article by Laura McCandlish

The Ginger

Earthbound Farms

Old Friends Farm

East Branch Ginger

Great Advice from Real Cooks on Food 52

Washington Post article by Tim Carman

New York Times article by Eugenia Bone

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