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Season gingerly to retard rancidity.

Season gingerly to retard rancidity

Fat spoilage (or lipid oxidation) of meats, especially cooked meats, contributes not only to their deterioration but also to rapid development of a rancid, "warmed-over flavor." Potentially more important, some researchers are coming to suspect, is that consumption of oxidized lipids -- including cholesterol and fats -- may increase the risk of developing heart disease (SN: 5/4/85, p. 278). But ginger aficionados, take heart. New research indicates cooks might retard lipid oxidation by seasoning their culinary fare with this spice.

Drawing on Japanese research suggesting that the rootlike ginger rhizome has antioxidant properties, a trio of researchers at the University of California at Davis added the extract from freshly ground ginger to salted pork patties in concentrations ranging from 0.05 percent to 0.5 percent by weight. Whether the pork was refrigerated or frozen after treatment, ginger retarded the natural rate of lipid oxidation in cooked and uncooked meat.

Ginger's potency was highest at a neutral pH of 7, and its antioxidant effect was directly proportional to the amount of ginger used, according to a study by Yubang Lee, Yongsoo Kim and C. Robert Ashmore in the January-February JOURNAL OF FOOD SCIENCE. Among refrigerated cooked-pork patties, for example, the oxidation rate in the most seasoned meat was only one-third that in the ungingered meat. In fact, the researchers say, heavy dependence on this flavoring in oriental cuisine may reflect an observation by early cooks that the spice was "effective in the extension of shelf life, especially in the absence of refrigerators." It's unknown whether extensive use of ginger might contribute to Japan's comparatively low incidence of heart disease.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 1, 1986
Words:274
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