Ginger is a fiery root with rough beige skin and hard, juicy, pale yellow flesh. It can be used as a spice, fresh or dried and ground to a powder. The fresh, juicy root has a sweetly pungent taste and a perfume-like scent that makes it suitable for sweet or savoury dishes, whereas the dried ground root is much more fiery. Young ginger can also be preserved in sugar syrup or crystallised and rolled in sugar - in both cases it is then known as stem ginger. Ginger is popular in cuisines throughout Asia and Europe.
When buying fresh ginger, look for plump roots that are not wrinkled. Don't be tempted to substitute fresh ginger for ground ginger or vice versa.
Store fresh root ginger in the fridge. Ground ginger should be replaced frequently as, like other dried spices, it quickly loses its pungency when ground.
Fresh ginger can be used finely chopped, grated, crushed to give a ginger juice, or simply sliced. In South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, fresh ginger is frequently added to curry pastes and it is often cooked with fish dishes in China. In Europe, dried ginger is more frequently used in baking, as in the classic parkin of northern England.