Ginger oil, obtained by steam distillation of the rhizome of Zingiber officinale Roscoe, is used in the beverage and fragrance industries. Ginger oil displays considerable compositional diversity, but is typically characterized by a high content of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, including zingiberene, ar-curcumene, -bisabolene, and -sesquiphellandrene. Australian ginger oil has a reputation for possessing a particular "lemony" aroma, due to its high content of the isomers neral and geranial, often collectively referred to as citral. Fresh rhizomes of 17 clones of Australian ginger, including commercial cultivars and experimental tetraploid clones, were steam distilled 7 weeks post-harvest, and the resulting oils were analyzed by GC-MS. The essential oils of 16 of the 17 clones, including the tetraploid clones and their parent cultivar, were found to be of substantially similar composition. These oils were characterized by very high citral levels (51-71%) and relatively low levels of the sesquiterpene hydrocarbons typical of ginger oil. The citral levels of most of these oils exceeded those previously reported for ginger oils. The neral-to-geranial ratio was shown to be remarkably constant (0.61 ± 0.01) across all 17 clones. One clone, the cultivar "Jamaican", yielded oil with a substantially different composition, lower citral content and higher levels of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons. Because this cultivar also contains significantly higher concentrations of pungent gingerols, it possesses unique aroma and flavor characteristics, which should be of commercial interest.
Wohlmuth, H, Smith, MK, Brooks, LO, Myers, SP & Leach, DN 2006, 'Essential oil composition of diploid and tetraploid clones of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) grown in Australia', Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 4, pp. 1414-1419.
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