Craig and Darcy Presnell’s personal culinary experience took root.
“We took a piece of ginger and planted it to see if it would grow and it did,” says Darcy, co-owner of the farmers’ market business Just Ginger. “When we harvested the root it was just so delicious, so fresh.”
The husband-and-wife team started growing more, until one day they decided to bring their surplus harvest to St. Pete’s Saturday Morning Market. The response was so positive they found a supplier of organic rhizome stock in Hawaii and kept expanding. Two years later, the Presnells now grow and sell their ginger at the St. Pete and Downtown Sarasota farmers’ markets year-round.
Just Ginger offers several types of fresh ginger: a Hawaiian yellow, a Khing Yai (a larger yellow variety) and a Brother Baba, which is white ginger (less pungent than the yellow).
“A lot of people are confused by the young ginger,” says Craig.
Although the root in most stores is the same as the yellow variety, it’s harvested in the plant’s dormant months, when it’s formed a callus, fibrous texture. In contrast, the fresh ginger at their booth is more tender and flavorful than the mature version most are accustomed to.
Many people will be surprised to see fresh turmeric root (which is also in the ginger family) for sale as well.
When their seed supplier once included a sample of turmeric with their order, they decided to give it a chance. They now sell three different kinds of turmeric: a standard yellow called Indira Yellow; a Hawaiian Red with a milder, sweeter flavor; and a White or Mango Turmeric variety that tastes like green mango and is used more for relishes than curries.
“We like the turmeric for the anti-inflammatory, but also for the flavor,” says Darcy, who says they grate it and add it to almost anything.
If you’d like to try growing ginger or turmeric yourself, you can pick up one of Just Ginger’s well-established plants.
“Turmeric is a gorgeous plant,” says Craig. “I don’t know why more people don’t grow it as a yard plant.”
The shade-lover resembles a banana plant and produces delicious and healthful roots, and has a prolific bloom that can last up to eight weeks.
The Presnells use organic seed stock and organic growing methods, which Craig says is easy because the roots are not prone to pests due to their aromatic nature. They are awaiting an inspection for a USDA Organic certification for their nursery, located in Hardy County.
Craig and Darcy hope to eventually begin creating and selling ginger products as well.
JUST GINGER RECOMMENDATIONS
• Turmeric is great with eggs or in egg salads, or add it to rice water while it’s cooking (Note: Use in combo with black pepper or oil to fully absorb the benefits.)
• Fresh ginger makes great tea.
• Ginger is also great in any stir-fry.
• Both roots are great in smoothies.
• Fresh ginger root can be frozen to preserve its shelf life.