Monday, 12 November 2012

Ginger Rodent, Maine Farming, Price Rise & Success In Trinidad

Last week, Danny Alexander MP celebrated the launch of Ginger Rodent beer from the Cairngorm Brewery. For those of you who follow British current affairs, that event will probably raise a smile. But for those who don't, let me explain. Danny Alexander is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, a British government cabinet post, and number two to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He also has red hair and represents a constituency in the Scottish Highlands. Last year, Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said of Alexander in a conference speech, "Now, many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists and we all love the red squirrel. But there is one ginger rodent which we never want to see again in the Highlands – Danny Alexander."

Commercial ginger growing seems to be moving further north in the US. A recent article in the Portland Phoenix featured the Good Shepherd's Farm in Bremen, Maine, which has just harvested its first ever crop of over 100 lb. I was also surprised to read in the same article about Freedom Farm, Maine's biggest ginger grower, which has harvested about 400 lb. At this latitude the ginger must be harvested young but as I've said before, baby ginger is becoming extremely popular in the US both cooked and raw in salads.

The climate in Maine is classified as Humid Continental Climate which is characterised by humid and warm to hot summers, and cold and snowy winters. This differs quite considerably from more traditional ginger growing regions such as India, Nigeria and Jamaica. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer will again sponsor Christmas programmes on ITV1, ITV2 & STV. The brand will also be running a TV advertising campaign starring the Tickety Boo couple George and Camilla. (Source: The Drum)

Here's an unusual story from Fiji. A septuagenarian former mathematics lecturer ignored advice from the Fijian government and planted ginger on dry sugarcane land in an area of the country not known for growing ginger. And he wasn't just dabbling. Master Dass planted three acres in March 2012 and has now harvested at least five tonnes. Other farmers are now hoping to emulate his success. (Source: The Fiji Times).

According to the Central Statistical Office of the Trinidad & Tobago government, ginger consumption in 2010 far exceeded local production following an increased demand for ginger products. So it was pleasing to see that farmers responded by raising production from 97,000 kg in 2010 to 186,800 kg in 2011 (an incredible 98% increase in just one year). As well as a larger harvest, the price of ginger also fell which must have made local consumers very happy.

We are nearly halfway through the rainy season in southern India. Running from October to December, the region receives a soaking from the Northeast Monsoon with most of the rain falling on one particular state - Tamil Nadu. As you can imagine, under these conditions there are going to be some monsoon-related ailments such as upset stomachs, colds and aching joints. To combat these, locals often resort to traditional herbal medicines. One of these, sukku malli kaapi, is popular in south Tamil Nadu. This is a brew made from dry ginger, coriander and lesser galangal (a member of the ginger family). (Source: The Hindu)

I've read that Indians like to chew a small piece of ginger with a very small pinch of salt to ward off the common cold. I chew a nugget of crystallised ginger each morning (without the salt) and although it hasn't stopped me from just having a cold, it certainly tastes good.

Still in India and the Deccan Herald reports that the price of ginger has increased considerably in the town of Chikmagalur in Karnataka. Last year, ginger fell as low as Rs 300 for a 60 kg bag. Last week, ginger was fetching up to Rs 2,200 a bag and harvesting only started this month. A number of factors have contributed to this rise. Winter in north India increases demand for ginger coffee and ginger tea. Demand also increases with the approach of the festival season. And, finally, there has been a low yield in the neighbouring state of Kerala.

One Indian festival where participants consume ginger food and drink, not exclusively I must add, is Diwali. This "festival of lights", which is about to end, is held across the country.

Here is an interesting article from the St.Louis Post-Dispatch on how a ginger liqueur business started. I must admit that it has given me a few ideas.

The Rutland Herald in Vermont has reported that a new brewery will open later this month. The reason I am interested is that one of the two launch beers from Foley Brothers Brewery will be of the ginger wheat variety.

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