Putting the Zing into Ginger
by Lisa Stoner
When it comes to ingredients that are uplifting we often turn to those tried and tested citrus oils, but there’s a wonderful spice that can also make your heart strings, and senses, go zing! Ginger features in our Smoked Citrus fragrance and, without revealing too many secrets, is one of the reasons why people love it so much. We thought that you’d like to know a little more about this spicy ingredient, and so it’s time to shed a little light on its background.
Ginger, or Zingiber officinale as it is also known, is one of India’s most generous gifts to the world, and it sounds as zingy as it feels. The essential oil comes from the dried roots, named “hands” because of their shape - a palm with digits. It came to Europe around about the 9th Century, managing the Channel crossing to Britain in the 10th Century. By the time it had travelled thousands of miles, and been traded several times, ginger was fabulously expensive, the domain of the medieval super-rich.
Live ginger “hands” were taken around the world and planted everywhere they would grow. You’ll now find ginger in Costa Rica, the West Indies, Nigeria, China, Japan and Australia, grown for both its flowers and its roots. Most of it flavours our food and, according to Dr J.S Pruthi, the best quality is Malabar ginger from Kerala. Dr Pruthi, author of Spices and Condiments, was India’s leading authority on spices for several decades. So, who are we to argue?
Ginger, honey and lemon is the best cold and cough cure according to our grandmothers, who also added a tot of whisky. Traditionally it’s used to increase blood flow and as a stimulant for mind and body. If you have aching joints, or aching anything really, chop up a lump and make tea with it or add a drop of ginger oil into your massage oil. Blend it with citrus fruits for a bright start to the morning, particularly if you’re in need of a stimulating boost, and in the morning, who isn’t? It’s almost the perfect natural remedy.
Although its cost has gone down, it remains precious. After all, let’s not value things merely by their price tags. In fragrances, ginger must be used carefully. When it’s blended with florals, add too much and it veers into the soapy. However, surround it with refreshing citrus fruit oils, like we do at Barbershop Botanicals in our Smoked Citrus scent, and you have the exciting burst of freshly chopped ginger root with just the right amount of tantalising tickle.