Ginger rhizomes are harvested from about 5 months after planting. At this age, they are immature. They are tender with a mild flavour and are suitable for fresh consumption or for processing into preserved ginger. After 7 months the rhizomes become less tender and the flavour will be too strong to use them fresh. They are then only useful for drying. Mature rhizomes for drying are harvested between 8 and 9 months of age when they have a high aroma and flavour. If they are harvested later than this, the fibre content will be to high. Ginger is grown in different parts of the country mostly the coastal region, eastern and western regions as well.

Ginger is usually available in three different forms:

  • Fresh (green) root ginger – This consists of both mature and immature rhizomes and are consumed as a fresh vegetable.
  • Preserved ginger in brine or syrup – This is made from immature rhizomes for the export market.
  • Dried Ginger Spice – spice is produced from the mature rhizome. As the rhizome matures the flavour and aroma become much stronger. Dried ginger is exported, usually in large pieces which are ground into a spice in the country of destination. Dried ginger can be ground and used directly as a spice and also for the extraction of ginger oil and ginger oleoresin.
  • • The fresh rhizome is harvested at between 8 to 9 months of age.
  • • The roots and leaves are removed and the rhizomes are washed.
  • • The rhizomes have to be ‘killed’ or inactivated. This is done by peeling, rough scraping or chopping the rhizome into slices (either lengthwise or across the rhizome). The skin should be peeled off using a wooden scraper made from bamboo to prevent staining the rhizome. Whole unpeeled rhizomes can be killed by boiling in water for 10 minutes.
  • • After peeling and washing, the rhizomes are soaked for 2-3 hours in clean water then soaked in a solution of 1.5-2.0% lime (calcium oxide) for 6 hours. This produces a lighter colored (bleached) rhizome. After soaking, the rhizomes are drained.
    • • Sliced ginger pieces take only 5-6 hours to dry when a hot air drier is used. Whole peeled ginger rhizomes take about 16-18 hours to dry in a mechanical drier. It is important to monitor the air flow and temperature during drying. The drying temperature should not exceed 60°C as this causes the rhizome flesh to darken.
    • • An air separator is used to remove any dirt, pieces of dried peel and insects from the rhizomes.
    • • The dried rhizomes are packaged into air-tight, moisture proof packaging for export.