As Asian cuisine has become somewhat mainstream in America, so has the use of fresh ginger as an ingredient. In the past, most kitchens only had powdered ginger in the spice drawer but now pieces of fresh ginger are readily available in the produce section of our supermarkets. Grated fresh ginger is featured in Asian-inspired marinades and sauces, but the juice resulting from the grating is actually a wonderful addition to these recipes as well.
Fresh ginger is a popular marinade ingredient because it contains enzymes that help tenderize meat by breaking down its proteins. While some marinade recipes use minced or grated ginger, others call for freshly squeezed ginger juice. In addition to marinades, ginger juice is also used to lend flavor to sauces. And as long as you have fresh ginger in your kitchen, it is simple to make your own.
Making Ginger Juice
All you need to make ginger juice is fresh ginger, a peeler, a grater, and a cheesecloth (if you prefer). Begin by peeling and grating several slices of ginger. Using your hands, squeeze out the ginger juice from the grated pieces into a small bowl. If you find this a bit awkward or messy, you can wrap the gratings in cheesecloth first and then squeeze the juice through the cheesecloth. Either way, as long as the ginger is fresh, there should be no problem squeezing out enough juice.
Fresh ginger should be stored, unpeeled, in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator—it will last for up to 1 week if stored in a paper bag, and for 3 to 4 weeks if stored in a plastic bag. Of course, if you only use ginger on rare occasions, the best option is to freeze the ginger ahead of time to use when needed. Tightly wrapped ginger stored in a plastic bag will last for months when frozen.
And there is no need to defrost the ginger before grating—in fact, leaving it frozen makes grating much easier. Grate the frozen ginger and then squeeze out the juice as you would with unfrozen ginger. If you have one, a garlic press is perfect for pressing out the juice from the frozen gratings.
There are many Chinese recipes that include ginger juice as an ingredient, and if you make your own you will save money and a trip to the market. Try either of the Chinese take-out favorites ginger beef or cashew chicken. Or experiment with the traditional and unique beggar's chicken, a stuffed chicken wrapped and cooked in clay for 6 hours.
There are also many ways to cook with fresh ginger, from savory recipes to sweet desserts, as well as refreshing drinks and warming teas.
The Far East has known of ginger's medicinal qualities for centuries and used the root to prevent illness and treat the sick. As it is very high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, ginger offers many health benefits, including digestive issues and nausea, osteoarthritis, muscle soreness, and pain, and can help fight the flu and common cold. It also may lower cholesterol levels and prevent certain cancers.