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Native to the Far East, belonging to the Zingiberacee family, it is a perennial herbaceous plant. Since ancient times it was the object of profitable trade between the East and the West and due to transport issues it could only be found dried. Today it is also available in its fresh version. Its cultivation has spread to our days even in areas far from its native lands, such as Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Peru, Thailand and other countries with a warm tropical climate. The largest producer, however, remains India. Present in kitchens around the world, it is also used in liquor as a corrective, in the production of jams and in breweries, especially in the countries of the UK. The plant is known above all for its fleshy and branched rhizome which contains various active ingredients such as its particular yellowish-colored essential oil which is obtained from the secretion of glandular cells, gingerols and shogaols (to which we owe the bold taste), resins and mucilage. In addition to being used in the kitchen as a spice, the root has important digestive, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antinausea properties.
It is precisely the infusion of ginger that we will talk about. Widely used to burn fats during slimming treatments and to combat the annoying ailments of the season, such as disorders of the respiratory tract, this infusion has a strong, decisive, spicy and delicious taste and can be prepared according to different recipes.
The choice of the root and its conservation at home
The recipe for a good infusion starts right in the store where we choose our ginger root. The rhizome of fresh ginger looks like a lumpy tuber. A young root can be recognized by its not excessively elongated shape and by its firm and compact flesh, which is easy to grate. It stands out for its characteristics with older roots, which have a more acrid and less pleasant taste.
Once we get home, we can keep our root, in case we don't want to use it immediately, directly in the refrigerator, where it stays fresh for weeks if well wrapped in kitchen paper and sealed in a plastic bag or, better again, in a jar with airtight closure.
The preparation of the infusion recommended to those who want to lose weight
There is some confusion about the denomination used in common jargon to indicate infusions and decoctions. With the ginger the matter gets complicated, because if on one hand it is true that the infusion indicates a drink obtained by pouring boiling water on the tender parts of the plants and that the decoction implies instead the use of more resistant parts, such as the roots , it is also true that the rhizome of ginger, unlike that of other species, is pulpy to the point that it can be assimilated in its consistency to some particularly fleshy flowers. In any case, beyond the complex matters of the denomination of this extraordinary drink, the ritual of preparation takes place following a few simple steps. In case we are more interested in integrating our diet with a purifying infusion that helps us lose weight, the most suitable recipe is the following.
First of all it is necessary to heat the root for a few minutes in a pan, so as to further soften the pulp without dispersing the active ingredients. When it starts to release its juice, cook for another three to four minutes. Finally remove the pan from the heat, crush with a small fork or, even better, with a tight mesh strainer the ginger pulp. A teaspoon of the compound thus obtained, left to infuse for ten minutes, will transform a cup of boiling water into a delicious infusion, to be sweetened with honey or sugar to your liking.
A variant particularly suitable for the treatment of colds
If the previous recipe is the one we particularly recommend to those who are starting a diet, this exquisite variant, with the addition of some ingredients, may be useful to those trying to cure an annoying cold. All we need is obviously ginger (in this case a thinly peeled slice), five cloves, two cardamom berries (belonging to the same family as ginger), a quarter of a lemon, a cinnamon stick and a half-liter of water. While we leave the cardamom berries, cloves and cinnamon stick to soak in water, the lemon must be blended together with ginger to obtain a rather homogeneous pulp. Once this operation has been completed, it will be necessary to combine the two compounds in a single kettle to be kept on a moderate flame for at least ten minutes. At our discretion, we sweeten the mixture with sugar or honey, let it rest for another ten minutes. At this point there is nothing left to do but to filter it and taste it.
Ginger infusion: other beneficial properties and some contraindications
Being a powerful antinausea, freshly chewed ginger is also used to prevent and treat motion sickness and seasickness, as the Chinese sailors who always carried with them during their journeys along the oceans well know of adequate supply of this very precious root. However, as with all plants, there are some contraindications that need to be taken into account. If chewed with little care, it is not assimilated well by the body and can cause intestinal blockages, stomach pain, bloating, meteorism. For this reason it is not recommended for people who frequently suffer from similar disorders or those who have been diagnosed with ulcers. It can cause moderate irritation to the gastroduodenal tract. Moreover, if on one hand ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory, on the other hand it is able to enhance the effects of NSAIDs, oral anticoagulants and anti-platelet aggregators beyond medical supervision, if taken in excessive doses. For these reasons, in addition to the excessively strong taste that it would give to breast milk, it is not recommended during breastfeeding and should be avoided during pregnancy. Obviously these contraindications are found mainly in sensitive subjects or following the ingestion of quantities that differ from those indicated in the infusions recipes, except for allergic individuals who may experience problems even when taking reduced doses. To dispel any doubts, the best practice is to contact your doctor!