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Ground Ginger

Since ginger is often used in combination with other spices, would it matter which brand we used in recipes like gingerbread?

Published Feb. 1, 2011

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A staple in bakers’ pantries, ground ginger adds a warm, spicy flavor and aroma to baked goods and many Asian and Indian dishes. Since ginger is often used in combination with other pungent spices and strong flavors, such as molasses, would it matter which brand we used in recipes like gingerbread? We bought ground ginger by two top-selling national supermarket brands and compared them with a mail-order ground ginger. We tasted each in gingerbread muffins and in our recipe for Fairy Gingerbread, a crisp, wafer-thin cookie in which ginger is the undisputed star.

In gingerbread muffins, where cinnamon and allspice muffled our perceptions of the ginger, all three brands received equivalent scores, although a few tasters singled out the more pungent profile of one product for extra praise. But in Fairy Gingerbread, tasters showed decided preferences. Although we deemed all three brands acceptable, we gave the lowest marks to the product we found to be most mild. Once again, a vocal minority strongly preferred the most potent ginger, but the highest scores went to a different entry, which straddled the middle ground with full ginger flavor but moderate heat.

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