Although Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Thai chefs have used fresh ginger for thousands of years, in the west most people use it in powder form. The taste of powdered ginger is certainly far from that of fresh ginger.
In the past, it was difficult to transport fresh ginger in time from Asia to Europe; therefore people resorted to drying it.
Ginger adds citrusy, floral sharpness to a myriad of foods, including fresh fruit salad. When you cook with ginger, heat breaks down its oils, and it becomes relatively mellow. Always add ginger in the final stages of cooking to preserve its sharpness. Try thin pieces of beef should or chuck, or top but sautéed with chopped onions and slices ginger.
Indian ginger tastes different (lemony), as opposed to Jamaican ginger (sweetish and delicate), on the other hand African and Chinese ginger is pungent and fiery.
Immature ginger is mild and delicate; late harvested ginger tastes strong and is penetrating.
Ginger is a rhizome, although it is called ginger root.
Chinese herbalists used ginger for medicinal purposes by for millennia. They believed ginger could eliminate body odour. Actually, it can prevent sailors from suffering scurvy, and reduce seasickness.
Hellenic and Roman cooks used dried ginger. After the fall of the Roman Empire this rhizome, disappeared until the First Crusade (1095 A.D.).
European doctors of the 12th century also believed ginger to have curative powers and even today doctors prescribe ginger to cure stomach problems, inflamed joints, as a thirst quencher, stimulant, to cure coughs, colds, asthma, arthritis, headaches, malaria, snake bites, and high cholesterol.
While it may help alleviate some of these illnesses, in many cases the effects are minimal, if any.
English like ginger beer, which is fermented, whereas ginger ale is simply a ginger-flavoured soft drink invented by an American pharmacist who lived in Belfast in the 19th century. It is still popular in English-speaking countries as a soft drink with no medicinal claims.
Canada Dry ginger ale was invented by the Toronto pharmacist John McLaughlin, by toning down the Belfast version which was both sweet and sharp.
During the Prohibition in the USA, Canadian ginger ale was very popular with those who drunk “bathtub” gin and other “home distilled” spirits. It was used to hide the awful taste of these crude distillates.
Canada Dry Company was astute enough to open a bottling plant in New York shortly after the American government declared prohibition. Needless to say sales were very lucrative, but then again it was so successful that an American big business decided to buy the company.