People have been harvesting ginger root, Zingiber officinale, for its aromatic, spicy rhizomes for centuries. Given that these delectable roots are underground, how do you know if its ginger harvesting time? Read on to find out when to pick and how to harvest ginger.
About Ginger Harvesting
A perennial herb, ginger prefers a warm, humid climate in partial sun and is suited to USDA zones 7-10 or it can be potted and grown indoors. Folks have been harvesting ginger for its distinctive aroma and flavor complements of gingerols.
Gingerols are the active components in ginger that give it that fragrance and zingy flavor. They are also anti-inflammatory compounds that help alleviate the pain of arthritis. Research has shown that these gingerols also help boost the immune system, protect against colorectal cancer, treat ovarian cancer and are integral to almost any stir-fry!
When to Pick Ginger
Once the plant has blossomed, the rhizomes are mature enough for harvesting, usually in about 10-12 months from sprouting. At this juncture, the leaves have yellowed and dried and the stems are falling over. The rhizomes will have a firmer skin that will bruise less easily when handling and washing.
If you want baby ginger root, the type that is usually pickled with tender flesh, mild flavor and no skin or stringy fiber, harvesting can begin about 4-6 months from sprouting. The rhizomes will be cream colored with soft pink scales.
To precipitate an early harvest of mature ginger, trim the tops of the plants off 2-3 weeks prior to harvest.
Use your hands to gently extricate the outer rhizomes without disturbing the others if you like, or harvest the entire plant. If you leave some rhizomes, the plant will continue to grow. You can also over-winter rhizomes as long as you store them above 55 F. (13 C.).