I have been reading and cooking and learning about Indian food lately. And one of the passing comments in Meena Pathak’s Complete Indian Cooking [book] caught my attention: I don’t like to waste anything so I use the ginger peels—they have a lot of flavor.
I am always looking for ways to maximize my use of ingredients and minimize waste. Like buying whole chickens: I fabricate them and use the bones for stock, the fat for chicken meatballs or sausage, the liver for pate and the meat for a myriad of yummy recipes. I am not a big fan of the skin, but ate some fried chicken skin in a salad recently.
So my eyes popped open at the notion of NOT throwing away ginger peels. While she cleans the peels and purees the whole root to make a ginger paste (which incidentally is awesome: puree whole ginger root with enough water to make a paste and freeze in ice cube trays!), I take the skins off and put them in the freezer. For tea.
I put the tea kettle on, and when it whistles I pour the boiling water over ginger peels and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. I usually just put in a few ginger peels per cup, but once you start making your own tea—you can decide how strong you like it. I strain it or just pick the peels out, add a tsp or two of honey and I have a natural, good-for-you tea. Sometimes I put in a squeeze of lemon juice.
Fresh lemon juice in hot water was a favorite drink of my grandmother. Drinking this simple ginger steeped tea ‘with lemon’ makes me think of her. Warmth on my lips, and warmth in my heart.