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“Super awesome” is how Kyle Bailey, chef of Birch & Barley, describes the young ginger that’s been popping up at local markets. Ginger is a tropical plant, so cultivating it around here can be hard. Shawna DeWitt of Mountain View Farms in Purcellville, Va., says this is her first year growing it. “We had to baby it, but it was worth it for the excitement factor.”

How to Buy: Look for clean, undamaged roots. In my survey of several markets, I didn’t see a single piece I wouldn’t have happily purchased. I found ginger at the Bloomingdale, 14th and U, and Dupont markets priced between $14.95 and $18 a pound. It will be in season for the next two to three weeks.

How to Store: Ginger will keep in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for several months. It’s also an excellent ingredient for pickling. DeWitt adds it to her kimchi.

How to Prepare: Young ginger hasn’t developed a thick skin yet, so there’s no need to peel it. For fresh ginger juice to use in drinks or sauces, pulse the root in a blender and press the resulting pulp through cheesecloth to extract the juice. Bailey suggests adding the leaves to chicken soup for a subtle ginger flavor—or eating it raw. “When I got it from DeWitt at 14th and U, I broke off a piece and started snacking,” he says.

Photo by Phoebe Connelly