My glut crop this week is ginger. It’s roots and perennials planting days this week, and I think it’s time to divide up and transplant the ginger. It still hasn’t sprouted but it is warming up very fast this year.
I don’t have a real harvest season for ginger. I just dig some up when I need some. It’s really good to have it in the garden because it means when I want it, it’s fresh and juicy and hasn’t been hanging around for weeks. Every few years, this time of year, I dig up the whole of an older plant, divide up the rhizomes, and replant in a nice fertile new spot with a good bucket of compost. Ginger dies right back over winter and resprouts when it gets warm and wet enough in spring. Just before it sprouts is a good time for dividing up.
Ginger is a tropical plant and it needs tropical rainforest-like conditions – warm, moist, well drained, filtered sun, lots of compost. I plant it on the southern side of my fenced beds where it gets shade from the tall growing plants that use the fence (like beans and cucumbers and tromboncino and tomatoes), the overspray from any sprinkler-ing and the benefit of chook-made fertility. I try to remember to give it an extra bucket of water every so often. It will cope with dry but it doesn’t grow new rhizomes, and the older ones get tough and fibrous.
The digging up and dividing is a good opportunity for harvesting a decent amount and making pickled ginger, an essential condiment for all sorts of east Asian dishes.
You need very fresh young ginger to pickle. Peel the ginger and slice as thin as you can. Very fresh ginger is easy to peel, just using the side of a spoon to scrape the thin skin off. It’s fairly easy to cut very thin too since it’s firm and crisp.
For each 150 grams of ginger, add 2 good teaspoons of salt. Massage through and let the ginger sit for half an hour.
Meanwhile, sterilise some jars by boiling for for 20 minutes or pressure cooking for 10, and make a hot pickling liquid by dissolving ¹/3 cup sugar in ½ cup rice wine vinegar. Pack the salted ginger into the hot sterilized jars and pour the hot sugared vinegar over. Put the lids on and let it cool. The lids should pop in. It will last for months like this in the fridge. It will develop a beautiful pale rosy bloom, not the pink of bought ginger that is artificially coloured but a softer peach colour.
Wonderful added to rice paper rolls or stir fries or noodle dishes or sushi or dipping sauces.