Alpinia (Alpinia officinarum L.)

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Family Ginger – Zingiberaceae 

General information

Alpinia officinalis resembles ginger. It is native to China (Chainani Island). Alpinia is widely cultivated in China, Japan, India, and the Antilles. In Europe, Alpinia has been known since the Middle Ages as a medicine, popularised by Arab physicians.

Botanical description

It is a perennial reed plant reaching a height of 1,5 m. The rhizome is long (up to 100 cm), horizontally creeping, and profusely branching. It produces narrow lanceolate leaves 30 cm long and no more than 2 cm wide. White-pink flower racemes are borne at the top of the stem.

Cultivation and preparation

Likes moist soil. The rhizome is dug when the plant is 10 years old. The excavated rhizome is cleaned, cut into 5-8(10) cm pieces, and dried. The color is reddish or reddish-brown, and the inside is orange-brown.

Active ingredients

Alpinia officinalis contains 0,5-1% essential oil, bitter flavonoid derivatives, and a pungent burning.

Therapeutic effects

Loss of appetite, lack of gastric juice, insufficient intestinal enzymes, and a ‘tired’ gall bladder are successfully treated with Alpinia. Alpinia is added to stomach teas, but can also be used alone.

For the infusion, 2 teaspoons of the chopped rhizome are poured over 250 ml of boiling water, left to steep for 5 minutes, and then strained. Drink very hot, unsweetened infusion in small sips 3 times a day, a cup half an hour before meals, when the appetite is reduced.

Uses for spices

The characteristic taste and spicy aroma of Alpinia are reminiscent of ginger, but with a distinctive hue that can be described as spicy bitter. In the food industry, it is used to make bitter stomach liqueurs and vinegar. Popular in Indian, Thai, and Indonesian cuisine. The specific dishes of these countries cannot be prepared without them. It is used in rice, meat, and fish dishes and some sauces. In China, it is used to flavor sweet dishes. Alpinia is used to flavor roast beef, which acquires a pleasant taste, potatoes, vegetable dishes, rice, sauces, mushrooms, salads, and fish. The recommended amount of Alpinia per serving is 0,1-0,5 g per dish.

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