Dec 20, 2017

The Ginger Jar

Antique 19th Century Chinese Ginger Jar
The jade green glazed ginger jar shown above was originally made in the Chinese Guangdong province, and was used to store food supplies like salt, herbs, oil and ginger (rare spices at that time). Hexagonal in form, with 6 floral panels; the Shiwan lead green glaze ranged from forest green to light teal.

What I find most interesting is that these ‘1-pound’ terra cotta jars were also used by migrant Chinese workers as the working-man's lunchbox while building the Canadian Pacific Railway and working the gold fields in British Columbia during the 1880s. Most of the first Chinese immigrants coming to Hawaii arrived in the mid-to-late 19th century, when 46,000 people immigrated to the islands to work as laborers on sugarcane plantations. I suppose it is possible that this ginger jar came with them.

I purchased this beautiful jar at a rummage sale here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i for $3.

Crystallized Ginger
Crystalized Ginger
Click on photo to enlarge
Have you ever wondered why the Chinese and Japanese frequently add ginger to their food? It helps digestion, facilitates absorption, helps with flatulence, and helps prevent nausea. A delicious way to enjoy ginger is to crystallize it. You can buy ginger already crystallized, but it can be hard to find, and is sometimes expensive. I like to make my own, it's very easy to do, here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra sugar for coating
1 cup fresh young ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices

Combine water and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add ginger, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer ginger to a wire rack, set over a pan, and dehydrate in a very low 170˚F convection oven for 1 hour, or dehydrator until dry, and then cut into smaller 1/4 inch pieces. Roll the small pieces of ginger in additional sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to three months. Use in recipes, or just pop a couple of pieces in your mouth every day.

Honey & Spice Oranges
This simple recipe makes a refreshingly delicious, and elegant light dessert after a heavy meal. The crystallized ginger adds a hot tropical flavor mixed with the honey and vanilla.

6 large Navel oranges, peeled and sliced into sections
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 teaspoons crystallized ginger, minced very fine
6 mint sprigs for garnish

Peel the oranges and slice sections into a bowl. Combine the honey with the vanilla and drizzle over the orange sections. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Serve in martini glasses, sprinkled with crystallized ginger, then garnish with mint sprigs and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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