Wednesday, 31 October 2012

New TV Advert, Jamaican Revival, Price Rise & Ginger Snap Ice Cream

Diageo’s Jeremiah Weed Root Brew is to appear in its first UK TV advert targeted at Scotland. The advertising campaign for the ginger drink will run for a month starting on November 1st. It will be focused on Scotland where the brand is proving popular. I tried a Root Brew recently and really enjoyed it. And in case you are wondering, I don't live in Scotland. (Source: Campaign Live)

In my last post I mentioned that the Great Lakes Brewing Company will be launching its Christmas Ale (complete with fresh ginger) on November 1st. I've just read on the Ohio Breweries Beer Blog that the brewery has joined forces with Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream to create a Christmas Ale Ginger Snap ice cream. It contains the fresh ginger from the beer with extra organic ginger and homemade ginger snaps. Sounds like ginger heaven.

The ginger revival continues in Jamaica, according to the Jamaica Observer. Once grown in many parishes all over the island, ginger is now grown principally in the parish of Manchester. Research is being carried out by the locally based Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative (I don't know why either) which has been responsible for distributing 35,000 pieces of disease-free ginger of the Jamaica Blue and Jamaica Yellow varieties to selected co-operative members. The importance of the revival can be seen by the fact that Jamaica imports 70% of all that it consumes.

allAfrica reports that this week President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania has been on a working tour of the Kilimanjaro Region where he launched a ginger industry in Same District. Ginger has been produced in Same for about fifteen years but has been hampered by a lack of investment. Private sector investment is now becoming available which will allow reliable production for both domestic consumption and export to Kenya, Germany and the Netherlands. The President's visit should really be called a re-launch of the ginger industry.

Much Tanzanian ginger production is organic but because it cannot be certified as such, it is classed as non-organic. It is said that the reason it is grown organically is because farmers cannot afford any agricultural inputs like pesticides.

Autumn in the US generally means pumpkin beers and ales from American brewers. But not for Bison Organic Beer from Berkeley in California. For this brewery it is the welcome return of Organic Gingerbread Ale. Another one I'll never be able to taste. (Source: CraftBeer)

It is a good time to be a ginger farmer in the Nepalese district of Ilam, according to República. A year ago ginger fetched Rs 5 per kg. Today you can expect Rs 35 per kg, a 600 percent increase. And some traders are predicting that the price could rise further next month, possibly reaching Rs 45 to Rs 50 per kg. It seems that the reason for the increase is low production in some northern Indian states. But there is a downside to this news - Nepalese shoppers are having to pay more.

It is not unusual for Indian farmers to take out bank loans to enable them to grow ginger. But what happens when farmers are unable to repay the loans? The State Bank of India decided that it would sell the ginger at auction now. The farmers went to the Kerala High Court and argued successfully that the ginger would command a better price if sold during the peak ginger season next March. The ginger is now being held in state warehouses. (Source: The Times of India)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ginger Research, Import Concerns, Theft & Christmas

Let's start with a sporting trivia question. What did Babe Ruth, the legendary American baseball player, enjoy for breakfast? Apparently, he drank two pints of bourbon and ginger ale. Ruth must have enjoyed his ginger as he personally endorsed Red Rock Cola, a popular ginger ale and cola product.

The story about Fijian ginger exports to Australia continues. Queensland farmers and politicians are concerned about the risk of pest infestation and the threat to jobs resulting from cheap imports. These farmers have raised their concerns with the Australian Senate Rural and Regional Affairs committee. This committee will produce a report by the 29th of November. Interestingly, Queensland farmers are also concerned about the import of pineapples from Malaysia.

Ginger is a very important export commodity for Fiji. The bulk of these exports, at 830,000 kg and worth $6million, takes the form of immature ginger principally for the New Zealand and European markets.

James White Drinks has extended its Beet It range of beetroot juices with the launch of Beet It With Ginger, an organic beetroot juice with ginger. The Food & Drink Innovation Network reports the owner of James White as saying that as only 30% of people love beetroot, adding ginger will immediately increase that percentage. I should be able to find a bottle in my local Waitrose.

McCormick, the international herb and spice producer, has identified ginger as one of seven must-have flavours for the forthcoming festive season, according to a company news release. I've never really thought about ginger with my Christmas turkey but the possibility of a ginger and orange glaze immediately comes to mind. What do you think?

The Birmingham Mail reports that thieves have made off with £12,000 worth of Fox’s ginger nuts and shortcakes from a Walsall industrial estate. This haul is obviously too much for personal consumption so will have to be offloaded somewhere. So if you are having a quiet pint in a West Midlands pub, don't be surprised if someone whispers over your shoulder, "Psst, want some ginger?".

As we have seen in previous posts, Americans have developed a taste for Belgian-style Witbier with ginger. I've found another one, this time from San Francisco's Triple Voodoo Brewing, called Witopia. This 5.5% abv wheat beer contains ginger, coriander & orange peel. (Source: Shanken News Daily).

Still in the US and November 1st sees the launch of this year's Christmas Ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio. This four-times World Beer Championships gold medal winner is a holiday ale which has been brewed with the addition of fresh ginger, honey and cinnamon. I think that this shows that ginger-spiced beers and ales can not only be refreshing in the summer but also warming in the winter.

And here is another one from the States. Sabra Dipping Company has just launched Asian Fusion Garden Hummus where Asia meets the Mediterranean. This interesting sounding hummus is made from ginger and sesame (and a few other things).

Next year will see the publication of a research paper entitled "Value-added bioethanol from spent ginger obtained after oleoresin extraction". Conducted by the Food Engineering and Technology Department at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, the research will show that spent ginger can be used to produce bioethanol. The spent ginger is what remains after the extraction of oleoresin and constitutes more than 90% of the original raw material.

I like to keep an eye on ginger agricultural developments in the US. This is a country which, apart from Hawaii, has not been known for growing ginger. But an increasing number of innovative, adventurous and entrepreneurial farmers have taken the plunge and started to produce ginger. To assist these farmers, the University of Minnesota has established a ginger research programme at its Southern Research & Outreach Centre in Waseca. Researchers here plant 100-150 pounds of ginger a year in high tunnels.

The Kathmandu Post reports that the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Nepal Ministry of Commerce and Supply will be promoting the production of ginger in Taplejung and Bhojpur districts. Both of these districts are known for growing ginger. This new initiative will introduce improved ginger 'seed' with the intention of harvesting ginger with a lower fibre content. Low fibre is a characteristic in demand in the international markets and can command a higher price.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

New Ginger Beers, Preservative Use, Oleoresins & Crisps

I was surprised to read that in the late 1950s, doctors in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recommended ginger ale and pretzels as a cure for babies with an upset stomach. Apparently, the drink is no longer used as the sugar content can exacerbate the problem and also giving a baby a fizzy drink isn't ideal. I would have thought that the spiciness of ginger would have been completely unsuitable.

Last month, Fever-Tree launched its Naturally Light Ginger Beer in the US. It joins the company's existing Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale with all three made from a blend of three gingers from Nigeria, Cochin and the Ivory Coast.

The latest unusual ginger-spiced beer I've spotted is Antebellum Ale from the Craggie Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina. The brewery has taken an 1840s American recipe containing ginger, molasses and spruce tips and added malt and hops for a modern twist.

In June, the Philadelphia Brewing Company launched Commonwealth Ciders. Next year, the brewery is planning a seasonal ginger cider. I'll let you know when it arrives.

The Gleaner from Jamaica carried an interesting article recently which had me reaching for the dictionary. It's about a farmer who grows soursop and who wants to produce a soursop juice commercially. Soursop, for those of you who, like me, had never heard of it before, is a tropical fruit with a taste of strawberry and pineapple. What brought the article to my attention was the use of ginger as a preservative for the juice.

Ginger has long been known as a preservative and a quick online search will reveal a wide range of ginger preservative uses including bread, pork, West African soft cheese, fresh fish and orange juice.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced the recall of certain Clef Des Champs brand Organic Ground Ginger products which may contain salmonella, reports MarketWatch. The recall appears to be nationwide.

Waitrose is to launch an alcoholic ginger beer as part of an own-label revamp. I'm surprised that there hasn't been one before (as far as I know).

Hollows & Fentimans will be promoting its alcoholic ginger beer with a Halloween marketing campaign this month, reports FoodBev. My understanding is that although Fentimans and Hollows & Fentimans are, in effect, the same company, Fentimans produces non-alcoholic drinks and Hollows & Fentimans produces alcoholic drinks. Nice drinks.

The Nepalese Department of Food technology and Quality Control has selected ginger as one of six agricultural products with wider export potential, according to The Himalayan Times. With ginger exports earning an impressive Rs 507.6 million in the last fiscal year, farmers are being encouraged to switch to organic production and then gain the added financial benefit of processing the ginger instead of exporting it raw. Preserved ginger commands a good premium although Nepal would be up against established players like Hong Kong and China.

Another region looking to increase its market share is the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The State Agriculture Minister has called for the creation of more ginger oleoresin extraction plants. Oleoresins are naturally occurring mixtures of oil and resin. Ginger oleoresin is used to flavour a wide range of food and drink products. (Source: The Hindu Business Line).

If you live in Japan you may be interested in a soon to be launched ginger and fried chicken flavoured crisp. But, according to PotatoPro, these crisps will only be available for a limited period.

The Nigerian Guardian has reported that a government department is developing plans to cope with the after effects of flooding on agricultural land. Although Nigeria produces enough both to feed itself and also to export for much needed foreign earnings, the production of crops such as ginger, cashew nuts, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits was affected this year by a combination of severe flooding and high post-harvest losses. Any farmer, politician or scientist will accept that you cannot mitigate against the effects of flooding but that something can and should be done to reduce the amount of post-harvest waste.

Incidentally, Nigeria start growing ginger in 1927 and is now fifth in the world production table.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Longevity, Recall, Unusual Bottle Find, Award Winners & Price Rise

The Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is an innovative and quirky brewery from Milton, Delaware. I like to follow developments because its beers, whether they reach production or not, can be very imaginative. One beer I read about recently is a soup-like brew called Hot Thoup!, an imperial pale ale with added ginger and carrots. I don't know what it tastes like and I never will as it will only be on tap while supplies last.

The Daily Express reported that Dorothy Peel, who has just celebrated her 110th birthday, attributes her longevity to a daily glass of ginger ale with a bit of whisky. I shall raise a belated glass to you, Dorothy.

A fascinating archaeology article was featured in Get Surrey last week. Professionals and volunteers have been excavating the ruins of Woking Palace, a building used by Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The article mentioned one particular unusual discovery - a ginger beer bottle. The bottle, of the Codd variety, was marked Castle Brewery (Guildford) and dated between 1910 and 1918. It is believed that the bottle was discarded during the 1911 Lord Iveagh excavation.

A couple of supplementary facts. Lord Iveagh was chief executive and, subsequently, chairman of Guinness. A Codd bottle incorporated a marble and a rubber washer in the neck and was designed for carbonated drinks by the British soft drink maker Hiram Codd in 1872.

Thai Ginger Butter is one of a number of products to be recalled by Sunland, Inc, according to many media outlets including CNN.

The Riverfront Times blog reported on an interesting development in University City, Missouri. Three local businesses have collaborated on the creation of two new sodas. One of these drinks is Pi Ginger Beer which is described as a cross between ginger ale and a spicy Jamaican ginger beer.

This is a bit late (early August actually) but better late than never. The Wrest Point Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards show, organised by The Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, is a key event in the Australian culinary calendar. I'm mentioning this because a number of ginger products picked up awards (not enough in my view). So congratulations to (deep breath): Tasmanian Ginger for Ginger Kisses, Choc Cherry Ginger Bites, Scary Gingerbread House and the Gluten-Free Gingerbread Man; Cocobean Chocolate for Macadamia & Ginger Bark; Red Dragon Organics for Certified Organic Ginger Beer and Living Elixir; Tasmanian Chilli Beer Company for Ginger Chilli Beer (Non-Alcoholic) and Ginger Beer (Non-Alcoholic); Carlson's Handcrafted Ginger Cordial; Doolan Country Rhubarb & Ginger Jam; Nina's Fig & Ginger Jam; Lemon Ginger Marmalade from Pirates Bay Berry Farm and, finally, Taverner's Tasmanian Double Ginger Honey. So, if you live in Australia, add these to your shopping list. You can see the full list here.

The latest unusual ginger-spiced beer I've found (read about, not tried) is Autumnation from the Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, New York. This beer is brewed with ginger, pumpkin and "wet" hops. "Wet" hops are used freshly picked rather than dried in the traditional manner.

In the early summer I mentioned that the sowing of ginger in the Indian state of Karnataka had been adversely affected by the absence of the monsoon rains. The Deccan Herald has just reported that farmers in the village of Shanivarasanthe in the Kodagu district of the state have just started taking what I assume is newly-harvested baby ginger to market. Because the lack of rain has affected the quantity of ginger, the consequent lack of ginger at market has led to an increase in the wholesale price. Good news for farmers but bad news for shoppers.