Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Tale of Ginger Ale

This summer, Homemade Ginger Ale has been an intriguing endeavor. Starting with some raw ginger, I prepare the low-sugar recipe and simmer it in my 17 year old solar oven. Results are delicious, thirst-quenching and beneficial. See below for the recipe.

What happens when we ingest some raw ginger, aka sheng jiang?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine herbology, raw ginger is classified in the Release the Exterior category. It has three primary functions:
  • Sheng jiang releases and disperses a cold. A warm tea of sliced ginger cooked in water with a bit of sweetener induces sweat and helps suppress the infection’s mild cough. It also alleviates a chronic, phlegmy cough.
  • It warms the digestive system and alleviates nausea and vomiting. Think motion sickness, a pregnant mother’s “morning sickness,” upset stomach due to emotions and many other stomach or gastrointestinal complaints. It’s very effective on its own and especially when combined in a formula with other herbs.
  • Sheng Jiang reduces the toxicity of certain herbs, e.g., pinellia, aka ban xia. Relatedly, it can prevent seafood and some mushroom poisoning.
Raw ginger also can significantly quell inflammation, as supported by numerous scientific studies. For example, it lessens joint pains from this source. 

Medicinal dosage and preparation of simple raw ginger tea

Use one to two teaspoons of the fresh herb per cup of water. Simmer 10-15 minutes, strain and consume as needed.

Ginger is NOT advisable for people who are overheated, have high fevers, or are coughing up blood.

Asian cuisine widely uses raw ginger in various ways: fresh, sautéed, pickled, candied, or as an ingredient in curries, soups, and stews. The trick with candied ginger is to find a low-sugar form.

Would you like to grow ginger?

In addition to Asia, people do so in far ranging places such as the Congo, Peru and the Caribbean. The plant does best in warm climates with evenly moist, well drained soils that are high in organic matter and mulch. About nine months beyond planting and after the leaves begin to wither, harvest the root.

What about Dried Ginger?

Since dried ginger, aka gan jiang, is energetically hotter than the fresh version, it’s sometimes better than raw ginger for internal cold conditions. Use it sparingly if pregnant or suffering hot flashes, night sweats, or an extreme heat condition in the body.

Finally, here’s the recipe for Ginger Ale, courtesy of my friend, Alison:

Ingredients to serve 8:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sliced fresh, unpeeled organic ginger root (you also can grate the ginger and produce a sharper flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed organic lemon or lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. organic honey or some stevia (a mere 1/16 teaspoon of the white powdered extract)
  • Sparkling mineral water or club soda

In a medium saucepan, combine regular water and ginger over high heat. Once boiling, lower heat to medium low, cover and simmer for one hour. Remove lid and continue to simmer 30 more minutes. Take off heat and strain mixture to remove ginger. Cool until the mixture is still quite warm but not so hot that honey’s benefits are lost, if using it. Stir in lemon and sweetener. Completely cool the syrup.

To make ginger ale, fill a glass with sparkling water. Stir in ¼ cup of ginger syrup. Enjoy!

Janet Lee Cook
 Licensed Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Prescriptions

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