A One Day Adventure: Ginger Root and Spring Rolls

Orlando, Florida is home to an amazing variety of ethnic eating.  Armed with a spirit of adventure, yesterday, we hit the road and ventured over to a local gem, Pho 88, a great Vietnamese restaurant in the Little Saigon section of West Colonial. Their Spring Rolls are just fabulous! While there, we stopped by our favorite local Asian grocery right up the street where we spent an hour lost in the world of exotic teas and sauces and scents.

We were specifically on the hunt for fresh Ginger root that can be found for literally half the price in the Asian grocery vs. the local  Publix. Ginger root imparts an earthy flavor to foods and we use it in our homemade chai tea concentrate. That’s another savings brought on by retirement. I’ve sworn off the syrupy Starbucks version of chai latte bought on the fly at the drive-through. Now we have the time to cook and eat more mindfully and the house is rich with the aroma of simmering spices.  Ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, coriander, peppercorns, vanilla bean and green tea all blend together to make an amazing drink. Almond coconut milk makes it latte and we use good old New Hampshire maple syrup to sweeten it in place of the traditional honey. Folk remedies often use ginger root to treat nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, colds, weight loss, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.

We brought home about three pounds and now will use the Florida sunshine to dehydrate it. If you are up for a challenge, here is how to go about making your own:

  1. Rinse the ginger root in cold water to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Remove the skin off the ginger root using a potato peeler.
  3. Cut the ginger root into paper-thin slices, using a sharp knife or grate the ginger root, using a cheese grater. Spread the sliced or grated ginger root in a single layer onto a baking sheet.
  4. Put the baking sheet full of ginger root right out under the sun. (Because we process so much at a time, we actually will spread the root out on a table covered in tin foil.) It can take from three days to a week depending upon the humidity. We turn the pieces a couple of times a day. You can also use a dehydrator or a convection oven set at 200 degrees for about three hours if you are doing smaller quantities. When you are finished store the dried ginger root in an airtight container in a dry, cool and dark place. You can use the whole dried strips or grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder or food processor.

And to John who told me that he would await this post with a cod in his mouth (baited breath), come on over and we ‘ll give you a sample!

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