Galangal

Galangal

Alpinia officinarum

Galangal rhizome is used to treat colds, relieve stomach aches, invigorate the circulatory system, and diminish swelling. Its dry root and rhizome are known as potent antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti diarrhea, anti-ulcer, antiemetic, antibacterial, anticancer, analgesic, and anticoagulant.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Lesser galangal, Galanga, Galgant, Thai Ginger
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Roots and Rhizomes
  • Side Effects: None
Use left and right arrows to navigate between tabs. Plants Informations

About Galangal

Galangal is a herbaceous perennial from Indochina and Southeastern China. It has thick reddish-brown creeping rhizomes, long and thin lanceolate acuminate leaves, and white showy flowers with red streaks, appearing at the top of the spike.

Since very ancient times, it has been conventionally used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicinal Systems. In China, galangal rhizome is used to treat colds, relieve stomach aches, invigorate the circulatory system, and diminish swelling. Its dry root and rhizome are known as potent antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti diarrhea, anti-ulcer, antiemetic, antibacterial, anticancer, analgesic, and anticoagulant.

In medieval Europe, the galangal rhizome was famous for its rose-like fragrance and sweet-spicy taste. Today in Asia, its root powder is used in making curries, jellies, drinks, perfumes, and teas. It possesses certain biologically active compounds that not only impart galangal its distinguishing taste but also its characteristic pharmacologic actions. It has been found to contain galangin, beta-sitosterol, quercetin, and emodin. 

 

Growing

Gardeners recommend planting galangal in spring after all the dangers of frost have surpassed. A light frost isn’t powerful enough to kill galangal but it can burn the foliage. 

Galangal is good to go for raised beds, containers, or ground. It requires warm, moist but well-drained soil. If your climate zone isn’t warm enough then you can go for an indoor plantation on a heat mat to get a head start. Galangal rhizome is sown in moist soil and transplanted in the ground after the appearance of several roots.

A freshly dug rhizome, directly planted into the soil, gives out shoots overnight. These shoots further grow into stalks with leaves. In late spring or early summer, galangal enters its blooming phase, producing intensely fragrant flowers.

These white to pale yellow flowers with streaks of red undergo pollination to get transformed into red edible fruits that taste a bit like cardamom. These fruits contain seeds that can be sown to grow another fresh Thai ginger plant.

 

Harvesting

Galangal is ready to harvest around three months after planting in the soil. If you are after a larger yield, you can do it a few more months later. But do not leave it for more than a year as the rhizome would become very tough to break apart.

Use a pitchfork and loosen the soil around the galangal plant. Position the pitchfork beneath the root ball in a way to lift it up. Remove the entire plant from the soil and separate the rhizome.

Freshly harvested galangal rhizomes can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze in a resealable bag for 2 month. However, if you want to preserve it for longer periods, dry galangal rhizomes in a thin-layer dryer or dehydrator and store them in an airtight container.

Usage

It is best to use Galangal rhizome in a dried form as the medicinal preparations prepared this way are more stable and potent.

  • Tincture - Dried galangal rhizome is macerated in menstruum (alcohol) for 4 to 6 weeks to formulate a tincture.
  • Tea - Dried galangal rhizome powder is steeped in a cup of hot boiling water (preferably with lemongrass) for 10 to 15 minutes to form galangal tea.
  • Decoction - Dried and slightly crushed galangal is added to the hot boiling water for not more than 15 minutes to form a decoction.
  • Salve - Galangal oil infusion is thickened with melted beeswax pellet on low flame for a few minutes to form a galangal salve.
  • Syrup - Dried galangal rhizome is simmered in sugar solution for 5 to 10 minutes on low flame to formulate galangal syrup.
  • Infused oil - Dried galangal rhizome is infused in olive oil in a glass bottle on a sunny windowsill for 2 to 3 weeks or use a double boiler for 2 hours to form galangal infused oil.