Its that time of the year, when the summer heat starts to give way to the cooler days of fall. If you are Mary Roberts at Windcrest Certified Organic Farm in Monroe NC, the first week or two of September means that the official start of ginger season is less than a month away!
Mary planted her first crop of certified organic ginger using organic seed from Hawaii in 2011. I am delighted to say I was there the day they dug up that first hand of ginger and was as delighted as anyone in the greenhouse that day to see the success of that harvest. I couldn’t be more pleased to see how Mary’s ginger business has continued to grow. That first year the harvest was small, it was an experiment to see if it could be done and if there was a market – Yes and Yes!
To help people learn how to use the baby ginger I have teamed up with Mary and Ray Roberts-Tarlton to teach on of my On the Farm cooking classes at Windcrest each October to celebrate the ginger harvest.
Heidi Billotto’s 2017 On the Farm cooking class is on the calendar for Saturday Oct 7, 2017 from 3-6 pm.
We work hard to make these class as much fun as they are informative. To that end, the class will kick off with an ginger-centric appetizer and aperitif and a toast to the season of all things ginger!
Then the group is off on a walking tour of Windcrest Farm as we explore the lay of the land and visit all the greenhouses to see what is growing for the season. Most of our focus will be in the greenhouse filled with rows of ready to be dug ginger and turmeric. Class participants will learn how to harvest their own and can try a hand at digging if they would like.
Once we learn the farming and harvesting side of this year’s ginger season, we’ll head back to the garden shed where I will have a makeshift kitchen all set up for all of use to work together to prepare 4 courses of what I like to call “Ginger-liciousness” with all of Windcrest’s fine local, USDA certified organic produce and the local protein and products of other producers as well. our friends at Assorted Table wine shop will provide wine pairings for each course.
Cost of the class is $85 per person. Simply email me at Heidi@HeidiCooks.com to make your reservations.
A Hand of Ginger to Call Your Own
With Nearly 800 lbs of ginger in the ground right now at Windcrest, you’d think there would be plenty for everyone, but this is a coveted crop that goes fast once harvest begins. Chefs and caterers are already placing preorders and you can too! Preorder your Windcrest certified organic baby ginger now and Mary will call you when it is available for pick up at the Matthews Farmers’ Market on Saturdays in October, or get a jump on the crowd and preorder with your cooking class reservations and you can pick up your purchases at class. Preorder info is all on the Windcrest website and you can place your order by clicking here.
Plus it seems Windcrest Farms certified organic ginger is celebrating this harvest with its own Facebook page, so you can follow along with the harvest and tag photos of your Windcrest ginger recipes by tagging them in your Facebook post at @OurOrganicGinger
How the local Ginger-liciousness begins
Mary plants the seed in January, keeping them warm and comfy in the greenhouses until they are big enough to transplant. The growing season is nearly 10 months long, but about this time of year, the plants begin to really shoot up first just one long main shoot which comes straight up from what as known as the “mother” and then as smaller nodules or fingers of ginger start to develop.
Mary knows when to harvest by the looking at the height of the leaves and the number of shoots coming up from the mother root to form what is called a hand of ginger. The “fingers” may be broken off and sold separately or the hand may be sold in one large piece.
The baby ginger root is tender and pink and not quite as spicy as its older counterpart which will start to develop a thicker brown skin as it ages. Baby ginger and older ginger may be use interchangeably in recipes.
Speaking of recipes, here is one of my favorites recently showcased on WCNC’s Charlotte Today . Watch it through and then scroll down to for the complete recipe for my Sesame Ginger Tuna Burgers and slaw.
Heidi’s Ginger Sesame Tuna Burgers with Ginger Slaw
1 lb. fresh sushi-grade tuna fillet
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. finely chopped red onion or scallion
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. minced fresh WIndcrest Farm Organic baby ginger
Windcrest Farm Ginger salt and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend
1 Tbsp. sesame oil + 1 Tbsp. Olive Crate Kores Estate EVOO for frying
Cut the tuna into 1-inch chunks and pulse in a food processor until just chopped, about 4 quick pulses – so that it looks like coarse ground beef. Gently stir in the cilantro, onion, mayonnaise, sesame oil, Windcrest Farm Organic baby ginger, salt & pepper. Shape the tuna into 4 burgers.
This may be done up to 3-4 hours ahead of time.
Heat the sesame and olive oils in a large skillet or griddle. Cook the tuna 1-2 minutes on each side – finished burgers will bel nicely browned on both sides but still have a pink center
Serve on a bun or on a bed of letter with sliced ripe tomato and Heidi’s Sesame Ginger Slaw ( recipe follows).
Heidi’s Sesame Ginger Slaw
½ head organic or local green cabbage
2 organic carrots, cut into Julienne shreds
¼ cup minced parsley
2-3 Tbsp. fresh grated Windcrest farms certified organic baby ginger
For the dressing:
3 Tbsp. minced onion
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. Olive Crate certified organic strawberry balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. finely minced Windcrest Farms certified organic baby ginger
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. Mushroom-flavored soy sauce ( Heidi likes Best Boy Brand available at any Asian grocery store)
1/2 clove minced garlic (optional)
Windcrest Farms Ginger salt and Heidi’s Hot pepper blend to taste
Shred cabbage and combine in a bowl with the julienne carrot and minced parsley.
Mae the dressing by Combining the onion, sesame oil, strawberry balsamic vinegar, Windcrest Farms Certified organic baby ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until combined.
Toss with the shredded vegetables and serve on top of the tuna burgers.
Variations: use shredded Brussels Sprouts in place of or in addition to the cabbage
Don’t forget to make your reservations for my On the Farm cooking class at Windcrest Farms on Oct 7, 2017 – Simply email me at Heidi@HeidiCooks.com to hold your spot. And if you love the idea of attending an On the Farm class and really learning first hand where your food comes from, then you’ll also be interested in my On the Farm cooking class at Dancing Bees Farm , also in Monroe, NC on Sunday Sept 24 from 2 to 5 pm.
Just Follow the Buzz and learn all about the Business of Local Bees with Master Beekeeper Jeff Knight. Robin Knight will be there, too, to share with us how she makes all the wonderful bees wax candles, lotions, bath scrubs and more. 5 honey-centric courses make this class extra sweet – Can’t wait to see you there! Cost $85 Email Heidi to make your reservations now.