Ginger is a wonderful, warm spiced with many culinary and medicinal uses. A must for the holidays when it comes to gingerbread and ginger cookies, it is also a key ingredient in many Asian cuisines. But, did you know that it is widely used for its ability to settle upset stomachs and for its anti-inflammatory properties?
Nothing beats the sweet and spicy flavor and aroma of fresh ginger, but if you're anything like me, you always find yourself with a little bit of that ginger root that you can't seem to use up before it goes bad.
If you grow your own ginger root or toss too many root stubs, drying ginger is a perfect way to make it last. And, once you start making your own ginger powder, you will find that the fragrance and potency of freshly ground ginger powder blow the store bought version out of the water.
Choosing Your Ginger Root
Drying ginger is easy, even if you don't have a dehydrator. First, when buying ginger, test it by snapping a small piece from the root. If it snaps clean off, without any stringy fibers, then you know the ginger is fresh and will work well for drying. If there are a lot of fibers, then the root will be more difficult to grind into a fine powder.
To prepare your ginger for drying, clean it well and peel it, using a sharp knife, a vegetable peeler, or simply a metal spoon. Then, slice the ginger as thinly as you can. The thinner the slices, the more quickly and evenly they will dry.
The simplest way to dry ginger is to place it on a plate next to a window that gets a lot of sun for 3-4 days.
If you don't want to wait a few days, place the ginger slices in a dehydrator or low oven (no hotter than 150F). Check your ginger every half hour or so. Drying at 150F will take roughly 1½ to 2 hours, while the drying time in a dehydrator will depend on the heat setting. (If your oven doesn't go as low as 150F, crack the oven door and put the oven rack on its lowest level.
Check your ginger every 15-20 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.)
Once your ginger is dry, remove it from the oven or dehydrator and let it cool. After it has cooled, check it again to be sure it is completely dry. (If it isn't, pop it back into the oven or dehydrator for another round of heat.) It is important for the ginger to be completely dry before storing or grinding because any residual moisture could cause mold.
The dried ginger slices are great for making ginger tea. They store well in an airtight container for 5-6 months.
Making Powdered Ginger
To make powdered ginger, grind the dry slices in a coffee/spice grinder until you have a fine powder. After grinding your powder, let it cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. I like to grind only enough ginger to last about a month. However, you could also grind your ginger in larger batches and store it in an airtight container in the freezer to keep it fresh.
Sarah Ozimek is the writer and recipe developer behind CuriousCuisiniere.com, a site that explores cultural and regional cuisines, making it easy to travel the world from the comfort of your own kitchen. Her pantry is stocked with mason jars of preserved garden bounty, fresh ground spices, and homemade sauces. Her friends joke that her fridge looks like a science experiment, with shelves full of hand-labeled jars, but she knows: homemade always tastes better.
Sarah's Ideas for Using Your Ginger Powder
- Baked Crab Rangoon
- Chewy Ginger Cookies
- Ginger Peanut Stir Fry
- Grapefruit Ginger Salmon
- Gingerbread Waffles with Cinnamon Apple Topping