Thursday, 31 January 2013

Welcome Rain, Hawaiian Ginger & Antimicrobial Activity

Ginger farmers in Queensland, and the Gympie region in particular, have been worried about the drought-like conditions they have endured since the middle of last year. So they were relieved when it eventually started to rain with the arrival of the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. And rain it certainly has. According to The Gympie Times the Langshaw ginger farm received 600mm (nearly 24") of rain in four days. This amount of rain falling in four days would normally indicate very heavy downpours but it was actually gentle rain. Because of this there was remarkably little erosion and the crops survived. Queensland produces about 80% of Australia's ginger.

Patrick Atanalian, the executive chef at the Sanctuary restaurant in Minneapolis, has created a simple but unusual dish. He has taken a classic potato soup and given it a bit of a bite with the addition of ginger beer.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has revealed that Nepal has become the third largest producer of ginger in the world after India and China. In 2011 the country produced 216,289 tonnes of ginger. A continuing concern for the Nepalese government must be that India buys 98 percent of the country’s total ginger exports. (Source: The Kathmandu Post).

The Department of Botany at Gauhati University in North-East recently completed a research project entitled "Comparative Chemical Constituents And Antimicrobial Activity Of Normal And Organic Ginger Oils". It concluded that organic ginger oil was more effective than non-organic ginger oil at fighting Stephylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli and all the fungal strains except Penicillium sp.

The Ohio Breweries blog informs us that the Great Lakes Christmas Ale (which contains ginger as a significant component) was the top craft beer in terms of sales in Ohio and the ninth in the whole of the USA. And to think that it is only on sale for eight weeks. The brewery produced 359 batches (I don't know how large a batch is) which contained 7,000lbs of ginger.

For the last few years the University of Hawaii at Manoa has been conducting research into bacterial wilt of edible ginger in conjunction with Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE). Bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) is the biggest threat to ginger farmers in Hawaii and many other ginger-growing countries. The aim of the project is to grow wilt-free ginger in pathogen-free soil. (Sources: University of Hawaii, SARE).

One of the participants in this research project is Hugh "Biker Dude" Johnson from Puna Organics in Hawaii. He supplies many of the ginger farms springing up in the eastern USA. Johnson was the first farmer in the world to export organic ginger.

Parts of Hawaii suffer from an infestation of Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), an ornamental ginger which features in the top 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species. Interestingly, a strain of Ralstonia solanacearum has been used as a biological control against Kahili ginger.

The ginger harvest has started on time in the Nilphamari district of northern Bangladesh, according to The Financial Express. It is too early to speculate on the quality and quantity of this year's harvest but the district, which in the past produced enough ginger for the entire country, currently accounts for half of Bangladesh's needs.

Buderim Ginger announced recently that chief executive Murray Richardson had resigned for family reasons after just eight months in the role. I don't know what effect that will have on the company.