When cooking, you will find ginger in two forms: fresh and ground. Fresh gingerroot is potent with a strong, biting taste, unlike the ground powder form, which is milder and can be slightly sweet. The fresh version adds a unique and essential burst of flavor to many dishes. The problem is, fresh gingerroot 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, shriveled into a lump, or that it even has rotted. This is especially true if you have cut or grated any part of it. The good news is you can preserve your fresh ginger by freezing it. And the process is very simple.
What You Need
To freeze fresh gingerroot, you'll need only a few items that you probably already have in your kitchen, including a knife, freezer-safe bag or container, a marker, and the fresh ginger, of course.
How to Freeze
The simplest way to freeze ginger is to seal it tight in an airtight freezer-safe bag or container. Start with the freshest gingerroot that you can find. You want to choose pieces that are plump, firm, unwrinkled, and fragrant, as they will have the best flavor.
You don't have to peel or chop the ginger first, but if the piece is large, or you know you will need pieces that are a specific size for cooking, it is best to cut the ginger up into smaller sections before freezing it.
Place the pieces of ginger into bags or containers and label with the contents, date, and amount (either by weight or the measurement by inches) so you can easily identify them later on.
Using Frozen Fresh Ginger
Depending on how you plan to use the ginger will determine whether you need to thaw it or not. If you are grating it, you can simply remove a piece from the freezer and peel and grate as much as you need. Since frozen ginger is actually easier to peel and grate than fresh, there's no need to thaw it first. Return the rest of the ginger to the freezer, making sure to wrap it up tightly.
If the recipe calls for slices of ginger, then you will need to thaw it out first as it is very difficult (and can be unsafe) to cut frozen ginger with a knife. If you have previously cut the ginger into pieces, defrost the piece you need before slicing.
Buying Fresh Ginger
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.
It may come as a surprise, but you can grow your own ginger. For a never-ending supply of ginger, plant a gingerroot 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, and as long as you keep your plant watered, you'll never run out of ginger.
- Peeling thawed 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 from professional chefs: Peel ginger with a spoon—just scrape the edge of the spoon along the surface of the ginger, and the skin will come off much more easily.
- If you don't have any freezer space to spare, there are other ways that you can store ginger to prolong its life.
- It's best to use your ginger within six months. You can safely use it after that, but it won't be as flavorful.
- You can substitute one form of ginger for another. It's quite easy to make a good ginger substitute using ground or crystallized ginger.