Ginger contains up to 3% of an essential oil that causes the fragrance of the spice. The pungent taste of Ginger is due to nonvolatile phenylpropanoid-derived compounds, particularly gingerols and shogaols. The latter are formed from the former when Ginger is dried or cooked. Zingerone is also produced from gingerols during this process, and it is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma.
Young Ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make Ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Mature Ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old Ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton. Powdered dry Ginger root (Ginger powder) is typically used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes.
Ginger is also made into candy and used as a flavoring for cookies, crackers and cake, and is the main flavor in Ginger Ale; a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the similar, but somewhat spicier beverage Ginger beer.