Where Fi•Ji Ginger grows
Ginger is in fact the rootstock of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale). It grows throughout the year and thrives in a damp, tropical/subtropical climate.
It originates from Southeast Asia and has been cultivated for 3,000 years. It is no longer found as a wild plant. The ancient Greek already used ginger as an ingredient for ginger bread, which was often given as a gift and used as a gesture of respect. In the Middle Ages, ginger was used as a remedy against stomach disorders and was as valuable as black pepper. In China, it is still used today as a remedy against many disorders such as rheumatism, malaria and colds.
Nowadays ginger is grown worldwide. The biggest producers of candied ginger are China, Australia and the Fi-Ji Islands. Fi-Ji stem ginger stands out for its soft texture and mild flavor, and is therefore appreciated by a larger number of people.
Candied stem ginger
Young root ginger, also called stem ginger, is required for the production of candied stem ginger. This is because young ginger doesn't contain any fibers, which is essential for the production of good quality candied ginger. The older the root ginger, the more fibrous is becomes. After the farmers transported the harvested ginger to the factories, the latter carry out a strict control for fibers. The farmers are aware of this, but on the other hand have an interest in producing the best yield possible.
Candying ginger in syrup is a type of preserving similar to salting (e.g. herring) and pickling (e.g. gherkins). The process starts by cleaning the root, removing the peel and cutting the ginger to size according to the specifications (cubed, shredded, sliced, etc.). The ginger is then candied, i.e. preserved in syrup.
Ginger is planted in August and September. This is done by cutting a piece of an old root and put the pieces in the ground, 20 cm apart, in rows that are 60 cm apart. A new root grows underground and coarse blades of grass grow on top.
Young stem ginger is harvested from February until the end of March, beginning of April. If ginger is left in the ground for too long, it grows tougher fibers. From April until the end of June, ginger is harvested for drying (djahé) and for pressing oil. July and August are the last months for harvesting fresh ginger and ginger for drying. The beginning of September sees the harvest of the last ginger, which is used as seed for the next harvest. The ginger plant is pulled from the ground by hand, after which the leaves are removed as waste.
Now it is time for quality control by means of random checks. After accepting a batch, the ginger is cleaned and stored in salt water tanks. This salt water temporarily preserves the ginger, because it is impossible for the factory to process the whole harvest into candied ginger without delay. Moreover, they can't predict market demand and the dimensions or the types of packaging. Candying ginger in syrup is a type of preserving similar to salting (e.g. herring) and pickling (e.g. gherkins). The process starts by cleaning the root, removing the peel and cutting the ginger to size according to the specifications (cubed, shredded, sliced, etc.). The ginger is then candied, i.e. preserved in syrup.
Contrary to other tropical spices, root ginger is an easy spice to transport. In the early days, it was taken to the West Indies for cultivation. Then in 1547, it was exported from Jamaica to Spain, after which the Portuguese took it to South America for setting up a ginger industry.
This process takes approximately ten days, after which the ginger is packed into various types of packaging for Retail, Food Service or the Industry. It is shipped by sea container via Auckland, New Zealand, to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. On arrival, the container will have finished a six-week to eight-week journey.