Ginger is a warming spice, so we usually associate it with fall and winter baking and cooking.
We’re looking at summertime temperatures for a few more weeks — with maybe a hint of chill in the mornings — but you can still put the fresh ginger coming in at farmers tailgate markets now to good use!
Lee’s One Fortune Farm has whole ginger stalks, including both the young, pinkish-gold root portion as well as the dark green shoots and leaves. Young ginger root is less fibrous than the more mature version available later in the season or at the grocery store. You don’t even need to peel it! If the ginger has any imperfections or slightly thicker peel, just use a paring knife to gently scrape it away. Find Lee’s One Fortune at ASAP, Black Mountain, West Asheville, River Arts District, and East Asheville markets.
Try pairing tender young ginger root with the last of summer’s corn, which is still available from Lee’s One Fortune as well as Green Toe Ground Farm at ASAP and North Asheville markets. Make a compound butter with minced ginger, honey, and cayenne pepper to rub over grilled corn on the cob. Or sauté corn kernels with ginger and garlic, then stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice. This makes a great topping for shrimp or fish tacos!
Or enjoy the last of your summer evenings with an icy ginger beverage. To make a lightly sweetened ginger-lemon iced tea, slice about four inches of young ginger and combine with six cups of water and the juice and zest of a lemon. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and add half a cup of honey to the warm liquid and stir to dissolve. Chill, then enjoy over ice with your feet propped up!
Preserve ginger leaves now to incorporate them into soup or tea as the weather gets cooler. To dry, cut off the stalks about two inches above the ginger root and remove the leaves. Wash, dry, and finely slice them into small pieces. Let the cut leaves air dry on parchment paper or paper towels on the kitchen counter. (How long this takes will depend on humidity levels.) Once dry, you can store the leaves in a jar or airtight bag.
At farmers markets now you’ll also find tomatoes, eggplant, okra, potatoes, beans, summer and winter squash, apples, pears, leafy greens, mushrooms, and much more. Markets are also stocked with farm-fresh eggs, cheese, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.