As a cook, you know the importance of fresh ingredients. But ginger, which is frequently used in recipes, can go bad if it isn’t stored properly.
Here’s a simple guide on how to store fresh ginger so it stays fresh and flavorful for when you next need it!
What is ginger and what is it good for?
Ginger is something of a celebrity in the culinary world. It has been used for centuries as both food and medicine, with people claiming that it can do everything from curing nausea to reducing inflammation.
The most popular way to consume ginger, however, is simply in tea form. Ginger tea is often consumed when someone feels nauseated or when they are experiencing pain because ginger contains compounds that reduce inflammation and help settle an upset stomach.
Ginger also offers numerous health benefits, including boosting your immune system and reducing your risk of heart disease. In fact, research suggests that just one tablespoon of freshly grated ginger per day could have significant effects on your overall health! So if you don’t already have a jar of organic ground ginger tucked away in your pantry, this article’s for you!
What are ginger roots?
Ginger root, or ginger rhizome (same as ginger) as it is technically known, is a root vegetable native to Asia and Africa.
Ginger, as its name implies, is a plant from the ginger family known as Zingiber officinale. It comes from the rhizome (underground stem) of a tropical flowering plant from the same family as cardamom and turmeric.
Peeling back the thin brown skin reveals a fleshy white interior that has a strong spicy flavor. The interior can be consumed raw or cooked in a variety of dishes.
What type of ginger should you buy?
It’s crucial to get the freshest ginger available in the market in order to keep it fresh for a long period of time. To ensure that the roots’ rhizomes are heavy and firm, check that they have smooth skin. You should always avoid ginger that looks wrinkled or withered.
As you might see in the case of fresh turmeric, it’s often preferred to buy organic produce because you can be sure that they’re chemical-free. This is also important when it comes to ginger because its skin is very thin and porous so many chemicals can easily get through it and into the root itself. So if you can buy organic ginger, that is the best kind of ginger to buy.
Don’t buy ginger that is stored in the fridge! There’s a misconception that it will stay fresh and crisp if it’s found in the coldest part of the refrigerator, but this isn’t true. The cold is likely to damage its cell structure and cause moisture loss as well as wilting. Instead, buy ginger kept at room temperature.
The last important thing to take into consideration when buying ginger is its color. The peel should be slightly lighter than the inside of the root so if the entire rhizome is golden brown and strong, you’ve just found yourself a fresh batch!
How to store ginger
I would personally recommend storing fresh ginger in a container that is airtight and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. I recommend keeping it in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. This means that you should check on the ginger every now and then to make sure that it’s not going bad, but you can most likely keep it for a week or so if stored properly.
Our best tips on how to store fresh ginger (to use it later)
How long does fresh ginger last on the kitchen counter?
Ginger is a hardy plant that can withstand room temperature storage for longer than many other fresh produce items. It’s important to keep ginger in an environment where it will not be exposed to direct sunlight, however; otherwise, you may find your rhizome softening and showing signs of aging after only one week!
Place the rhizome on a plate or in your fruit bowl on top of your counter, away from direct sunlight. It will last approximately a week before it begins to soften and show signs of deterioration.
How long does ginger last in the fridge?
If you don’t think that your ginger will get used up in a week or less, then it’s best to store it in the fridge. Make sure that you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it on an airtight container before placing it on the very top shelf of your refrigerator (but not directly on top of other produce items because the cold will cause it to lose moisture and could potentially be damaged).
Ginger will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, but after about three weeks you’ll notice that it becomes quite dry and the skin will begin to shrivel. You can keep ginger fresh by taking a fork or a spoon and creating a little puncture through the plastic wrap into the flesh of the ginger. This will allow for some moisture loss to occur, but it will also keep your rhizome fresh for longer.
To keep ginger fresh for over three weeks, it’s best to store the whole rhizome (ginger root/ginger) in your freezer. Again, make sure that you wrap it tightly in plastic or place it on an airtight container before placing the item in the freezer.
Ginger should be fine for up to three months when stored properly in your freezer. Just make sure to place it in your freezer as soon as you get home from shopping. Another option is to peel the ginger, thinly slice it, then store it in an airtight container in the freezer.
What you can do with old, tough ginger :
When ginger begins to get overly soft and dry, don’t throw it away! You can still use it for many other things even if its skin has started to shrivel or show signs of rot.
There are many ways to use overly soft and shriveled ginger:
Grate the dried pieces and add them into your ginger ale or cola instead of fresh spice. Another option is to make a pot of ginger tea by adding half a teaspoon of grated or diced ginger into your favorite tea blend before boiling it. You can also add them to any stir fry, soup, stew, or casserole recipe for added flavor.
If you don’t have time to grate the ginger by hand, take the dried pieces and put them in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Alternatively, you can put them in a blender. You won’t get a finer consistency than this, but you will save yourself a lot of time and energy if it’s a small amount that you need to chop.
When all else fails, use an old fashion mortar and pestle to grind the tough pieces down for added flavor to any recipe.
You can also choose to chop the ginger into tiny little chunks and place them in an airtight jar filled with vodka or your favorite spirit. Let it sit in your liquor cabinet for a few days before straining away the pieces, and you will have yourself some fresh, young ginger-infused vodka!
Another option is to take the tiny chunks of ginger, make a nice syrup with sugar and water, and add the chunks into the syrup before letting it ferment away in a clean jug for a few days. After a while, you will have fresh ginger that has been infused with some sugar and alcohol that is perfect to use in baking or to add to your favorite cocktail!
Once you’ve peeled or sliced ginger, it will no longer keep at room temperature. To keep it longer, you’ll have to freeze or refrigerate it. In the freezer, large pieces of ginger can last up to three months if they’re kept in an airtight container.