by any means all the ginger upon the market is peeled.
The Jamaica ginger usually is; the African ginger is
usually unpeeled, and hence dark in color; the Chinese
ginger is usually partially peeled. Peeling makes the
product appear whiter and hastens drying very materially,
but much of the ethereal oil and active principle is
thereby lost since it occurs most plentifully in the
The ginger crop impoverishes the soil very rapidly; every few years a new field must be planted. Forest soil is said to yield the best crops and in Jamaica thousands of acres of forest are annually destroyed by fire to prepare new ginger fields. Ginger appears upon the market either whole or ground.
Unfortunately the ground article is oftentimes adulterated; for instance, with sago, tapioca, potato, wheat, and rice starch, with cayenne pepper, mustard, and other substances.
Ginger has been an important commercial and household article ever since the first century of our era. Poets and prose writers of the past and present have praised ginger and the many preparations having ginger in their composition, because of their aromatic pungent taste and stimulating effect. The opening quotation from Shakespeare indicates the properties of ginger. That it was a highly-valued spice during the time of Mandeville (1300-1372) is evident from a quotation from his travels.
Be alle that contree growe the gode gyngevere (ginger), and therefore thidre gon the Marchauntes for Spicerye.
Green ginger pickled in sugar was highly prized during the middle ages. There are a number of beverages which contain ginger. Gingerade is water charged with carbonic acid gas and flavored with ginger, being almost identical with ginger-pop. Ginger-beer is prepared by fermenting cream-of-tartar, ginger, and sugar with yeast and water. Ginger-ale is supposed to be identical with ginger-beer. These ginger drinks are all refreshing, but I believe my readers will agree that there is usually too much ginger present; the hot, burning sensation in the mouth is not very pleasant. It may be that the trouble lies in taking too much of the drink at a time.
In my estimation ginger as used by the baker is most appreciated and here again I believe my readers will agree with me. Who has not heard of ginger-bread? This sweet cake flavored with ginger is not by any means of recent origin. The great English bard Chaucer sang its praises long ago (1328-1400):
They fette him first the sweete wyn,
And mede eek in a maselyn,
And roial spicerye
Of ginge breed that was full fyn.
also must have valued this bread very highly, for in the
play, Loves Labor Lost, he says:
"An I had but one penny in the world thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread.
Ginger-bread is often made into fanciful shapes. Cats, dogs, horses, elephants, and men are cut out of the rolled dough and then baked. Many of my readers are perhaps familiar with some of the beautiful playtime songs of Alice Riley and Jessie Gaynor. The following are the words of one of these songs, entitled, The Ginger-bread Man. It describes the ginger-bread man very beautifully in the first verse. His awful fate, evidently in the hands of a small cannibal, is very graphically described in the second verse. I regret being wholly unable to supply the music. Here are the words by Alice Riley:
Oh the ginger-bread man, the ginger-bread man,
The round little, brown little ginger-bread man,
He has sugary eyes and a sugary nose,
And hes sweet from his crown to his sugary toes,
Is this dear little, queer little ginger-bread man,
This dear little ginger-bread man.
Oh the ginger-bread man, the ginger-bread man,
The poor little, sad little ginger-bread man,
For he lost his poor arms, and he lost both his feet,
And he lost his poor head, it was so good to eat,
And his vest buttons tasted uncommonly sweet,
Ah, poor little ginger-bread man.
Gingersnaps are very much liked by many. I used to demolish them by the pound until someone whispered in my ear that bad eggs were used in making them. Since then my appetite for gingersnaps has lessened. I hope what that man said is not true. Gingernut is another cake containing ginger and sweetened with molasses.
At the present time ginger is not very extensively used as a medicine. The powder or tincture is effective in some forms of indigestion. It is used to correct a bad breath, in tooth-ache, as a gargle and mouth-wash, in colic, and in dysentery. In a German work on pharmacy I find that it is recommended in catarrh of the stomach and for Katzenjammer. It will not be necessary to explain what Katzenjammer means.
Explanation of plate:
A, plant about nature size; 1, flower bud; 2, flower; 3, outer floral parts separated; 4, longitudinal section of flower; 5, nectary with the rudimentary and perfect stamens; 6, pistil and rudimentary stamen; 7, upper end of style with stigma; 8 and 9, ovary in longitudinal and transverse sections.