Fresh ginger is widely available in almost all countries and used in cooking as well as for its medicinal value. It is also available as dried ginger is called Sukku (சுக்கு) or Verkompo (வேர்கொம்பு) in Tamil and is usually kept in every home in Yarlpanam and is used for medicinal purposes.
Fresh ginger is essential to Asian and oriental cookery. It is used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes and the ground dried root is a constituent of many curry powders. Tender young ginger can be sliced and eaten as a salad. Sometimes the roots will produce green sprouts which can be finely chopped and added to a green salad.
Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Indian Recipes and Chinese cuisine to flavour dishes such as seafood or mutton & Vegetarian dishes.
Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. Fresh ginger can be successfully substituted for ground ginger and should be done at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground.
In Western cuisine, ginger is traditionally restricted to sweet foods, such as ginger ale, ginger beer, gingerbread, ginger snaps, ginger cake and ginger biscuits. A ginger-flavoured liqueur called Canton is produced in France. Green ginger wine is a ginger flavoured wine produced in the United Kingdom, traditionally sold in a green glass bottle. Ginger is also used as a spice added to hot coffee and tea. In some parts of the Middle East ginger powder is used as a spice for coffee.
It was noticed that tough meat when rubbed with ginger juice or left in ginger water or impregnated with ginger spice (dried), became tendered, and more easily digestible. It is now known that ginger is very rich in a group of enzymes called proteases which powerfully attack proteins, and tenderise meat. Ginger kills, perhaps with the help of its enzymes, pathogenic bacteria - things like salmonella, botulism, and listeria preventing food from going off.
Additionally, in Tamil Nadu, especially in the Tanjore belt, a variety of ginger which is less spicy is used when tender to make fresh pickle with the combination of lemon juice or vinegar, salt and tender green chillies.
Ginger has many functions, some of which are its mild effect and still some are combined effect with other spices. Ginger is known to be a preservative against poison, analgesic (tendency to remove pain), prevents vomiting, kills intestinal worms, a mild effect on preventing hardening of the walls of blood vessels, mildly antibacterial, mild effect on preventing blood clotting, mildly reduces cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, prevents coughing, a bowel tonic, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, increases secretion of bile , circulatory stimulant, induces sweating, digestive, expectorant, fresh juice reduces blood sugar level, peripheral vasodilator, increases salivary secretion, stimulant, synergist with other herbs and a tonic.
Often it is consumed in the form of Ginger beer and Ginger tea for these reasons. It is often used as an adjunct to other remedies as a general tonic or stimulant purposes or as purgatives or to prevent griping. Conversely, in the Philippines it is chewed to expel evil spirits.
The medical form of ginger historically was called "Jamaica ginger"; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, and used frequently for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of medicines. Ginger has been found effective for treating nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy.
There are a variety of uses suggested for ginger. Tea brewed from ginger is a folk remedy for colds. Ginger ale and ginger beer have been recommended as "stomach settlers" for generations in countries where the beverages are made, and ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps in the US. Ginger has also been historically used to treat inflammation.
Another variant of Ginger is Mango Ginger which is a member of ginger family with a rhizome which smells like unripe mangoes. Young shoots and tender rhizomes are eaten raw salads.