Fresh ginger root adds a unique and essential burst of flavor to many dishes. Using boring old ground ginger just doesn't have the same impact—fresh ginger is potent with a strong, biting taste, ground ginger is not. The problem is, fresh ginger root won't keep for more than two or three weeks at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You'll often find it has gone bad, shriveling into a lump or even rotting. This is especially true if you have cut or grated any part of it. Don't fret. There is a solution. To preserve your fresh ginger, try freezing it instead—here's how.
Supplies You'll Need
To freeze fresh ginger root, you'll need only a few things you likely have in your kitchen, including:
- Fresh ginger root
- A knife
- A freezer-safe bag or container
- A marker
Start with the freshest ginger root that you can find. You want to choose pieces that are plump, firm, unwrinkled, and fragrant. These will have the best flavor. If your usual grocery store doesn't have the best ginger, try shopping at a specialty market (especially an ethnic one), where there's more demand for it. Asian and Indian markets are a good bet.
The simplest way to freeze ginger is to just seal it tight in an airtight freezer-safe bag or container. You don't even have to peel or chop it first.
If you bought a large ginger root, or you already know how you're going to use your ginger so you estimate the sizes you'll need, cut the ginger up into smaller pieces before freezing it. You may even want to freeze it in recipe-size portions to save time later. Label your freezer bags with the contents, date, and amount (either by weight or the measurement by inches) so you can easily identify them later on. Things aren't as easy to identify once they've been frozen.
Using Frozen Fresh Ginger
To use your ginger, simply remove a piece from the freezer, and grate as much as you need. There's no need to thaw it first. In fact, frozen ginger is actually easier to grate than fresh because the outer layer is harder and doesn't adhere to the fibrous ginger as much. You can return the rest to the freezer being careful to wrap it up tight.
Keep It in a Pot
It may come as a surprise, but you can grow your own ginger. For a never-ending supply of ginger, simply plant a ginger root in a small pot, and keep it on the window sill. It'll send up shoots and leaves just like any other houseplant. Whenever you need ginger for a recipe, simply lift the plant; cut off a piece of the root, and return the rest to its pot. Cutting the root won't hurt the plant a bit. As long as you keep your plant watered, you'll never run out of ginger.
- Peeling ginger with a vegetable peeler or knife can be difficult and lead to a lot of waste—not to mention slipping and injuring yourself. One trick that professional chefs know is that you can peel ginger with a spoon—the skin comes off much more easily.
- If you don't have any freezer space to spare, learn other ways that you can store ginger to prolong its life. As with any frozen foods, it's best to use your ginger within six months. You can safely use it after that, but it won't be as flavorful. Remember, freezing doesn't stop food from going bad, it only slows down the process.
- Also, you can substitute one form of ginger for another. It's quite easy to make a good ginger substitute, using ground or crystallized ginger.