According to the Queensland Government’s Primary Industries & Fisheries website, ginger was first grown commercially in Buderim, in the beautiful hinterland of the Sunshine Coast (a mere hour or so from Brisbane), in the early 1900’s.
It seems that the promotion of ginger as a crop was a project of the Queensland Acclimatisation Society, and that it was already being grown successfully in the early 1870’s. The monthly report of the society, published in The Queenslander in August 1873 had this to say:
The society having been largely instrumental in establishing the fact, for a long time controverted, that ginger could be successfully grown as a field crop, and the Queensland-grown root having now become an article of general culture and commerce, the following practical recipe, kindly forwarded by Dr Waugh, may be considered in place in this report :— Ginger for market.—The rhizomes are left in the ground until the annual stalks are withered. When for preserving it is dug while in sap, the stalks not being more than five or six inches long. The young roots are scalded, then washed in cold water and carefully peeled; they are then soaked for three or four days, changing the water frequently, and then put into jars and covered with a weak syrup - afterwards ex changed for a stronger one, and so one for two or three times. It is the method adopted by tho Chinese and Indian preservers. The tenderness and delicacy of the preserve depends, of course, very much on the age of the root.
Ginger was grown in the Buderim region initially to supply the local domestic market, but a large amount is now exported around the world. The Buderim Ginger factory and tourist venue is now actually located in Yandina, but the ginger is still fabulous, and the ginger shop is said to stock the world’s largest selection of ginger products.
In addition to the above recipe for ginger in syrup, as my final contribution to Australia Day week I give you a few more recipes featuring green ginger root, sourced from Australian newspapers.
[From an article entitled ‘Wholesome Field Drinks’]
Take of white Jamaica ginger root four ounces; pound it sufficiently to break the fibres; add to it three gallons of boiling water and two ounces of cream of tartar; boil it for five or ten minutes; then strain it and add two pounds of sugar; stir it until all is dissolved; pour it into a pail, and add half an ounce of tartaric acid, and let it stand until lukewarm; pour in three tablespoonsful of yeast, and mix it well; let it rise for six to eight hours; then bottle, securing the corks tightly. In two or three days it will be good to drink, and it will keep five or six weeks. It is a very delicious drink, and can be drank without injury in the hottest weather. Six lemons can be substituted for the tartaric acid. Grate the peels and squeeze the juice into the boiling water when the ginger is first added.
The Queenslander, December 16, 1871.
To Preserve Citrons, but not whole, try as follows:-
Boil till tender, cut in half, and remove pulp. Lay them on a dish (earthenware or tin) covered with syrup (½ lb sugar to each citron, boiled with two or three spoonfuls of water for a quarter of an hour) for two or three days, then pour the syrup off and boil it with 1 lb. sugar, skim and pour boiling upon the fruit. Soak twelve races of whole ginger in water for three days, scrape well, and boil in a little thin syrup, and add the ginger to the fruit.
The Queenslander, July 30, 1881.
Pick and wash ¼ lb. of Patna rice, and put it to boil with one pint of milk; when thoroughly done turn it out into a basin. Take a small bottle of preserved ginger, drain off the syrup, and mince the ginger quite fine, add it to the rice, and work it well with a spoon for some time. Beat up half a gill of cream with the yolks of six and the whites of three eggs; strain this into the mixture, and keep on stirring it for some time longer, then pour it into a buttered mould, and steam it for one hour and a half; strain the ginger syrup, warm it, add a glass of brandy to it, and pour it on the dish on which you turn out the pudding.
Burra Record, May 1, 1883.
Melon Jam with Green Ginger.
201b. of melon cut into large pieces, 201b. of sugar, the rind and the juice of four lemons, 2oz. of green ginger boiled and sliced, and one teaspoonful of cayenne pepper tied tightly in a thick piece of muslin. Boil all together till the melon is clear; when soaked take out the pepper, add one glass of brandy. N.B.Green ginger can be bought from the Chinese or from Mr. Germain Nicholson, grocer.
Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.), June 26, 1884. Recipe contributed by ‘Housewife’.
Quotation for the Day.
He boils milk with fresh ginger, a quarter of a vanilla bean, and tea that is so dark and fine-leaved that it looks like black dust. He strains it and puts cane sugar in both our cups. There's something euphorically invigorating and yet filling about it. It tastes the way I imagine the Far East must taste.
Smilla's Sense of Snow