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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fresh Ginger Tips

Fresh Ginger Tips

During cooking classes, my students always say that they love the taste of fresh ginger, but complain that it’s a pain in the butt to peel and chop! Half of the students shamefully admit that they buy the pureed stuff that comes in a jar or tube.

Eeewwww!

Call me a ginger snob, but that jarred pureed stuff is just plain nasty and chemically tasting. There is definitely something suspicious about a food item that sticks to the roof of your mouth. Especially when it’s not chocolate, peanut butter or caramel.

So, I’m going to share with you some of my ginger secrets….

Ginger is actually a root, the rhizome of a name of a plant I can’t say 10 times fast, “Zingiber Officinale.” It’s one of the ingredients that I use in my everyday Asian cooking.

How to store ginger

  • Refrigerate: I use ginger so much that I buy a big massive root once every couple of weeks. The best way to store ginger is place it in small paper bag in your vegetable crisper drawer. I used to tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, but then one day while pregnant with Andrew and HIGHLY emotional, I felt sorry for the ginger suffocating in the wrap and started crying. Don’t ask. I can’t explain.
  • Freeze: When I have one of those moments at the store and forget I that I already have 2 pounds of ginger in the refrig…and end up with ginger overload, I use a the handy microplane grater to grate the entire root. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter and spoon the ginger on top in a nice even line. Roll up tightly, twist the ends (hmmm….reminds me of something i used to to do when i was in college) like a piece of candy and freeze. When you need, just unwrap, snap off a chunk and it defrosts quickly. Or just regrate on your microplane grater while frozen. What a clever idea from Lunch In a Box!

How to cut?

How I want to use the ginger determines how I cut the root.

  • Flavor the oil: Sometimes, I don’t want a strong ginger flavor in a dish, but I want my oil to be fragranced and flavored by the ginger. Wash well, don’t bother peeling. Cut the ginger into 1/8″ coins. With the side of your knife, “whack” the coin to break the fibers a bit and release the essence. Heat up your cooking oil in a wok or pan on high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the ginger coins (usually about 3 coins) and let the ginger fry for 30 seconds. If I want a little stronger flavor, I turn my heat to medium and let the ginger infuse the oil for a little longer. Don’t let the ginger burn! Combine the ginger with smashed garlic cloves and you have a start to a classic Chinese stir-fry. At this point you can remove and discard the ginger.
  • In stir fry, sauce, dressing: There’s nothing more annoying than getting a fibrous piece of ginger stuck in your teeth. No matter how long you spend at your cutting board mincing this stubborn root, it’s never going to be as fine as the method I use. I use a microplane grater (photo above) to grate my fresh ginger. It works wonderfully and you can see that the fiber stays on the root and doesn’t end up in your dish. You’ll end up with fine, silky, clean ginger. Easy and it only takes 15 seconds to grate enough for your dish. I also have a Japanese ceramic ginger grater but it’s a unitasker that takes up space in my drawer. Simply put, the microplane grater is an indispensable tool in my kitchen, and I use it for everything, especially ginger. Hate peeling ginger? It’s an awkward affair with all those bumps, crevices and curves. Yes, you could use a spoon, but pssst….here’s a secret….I don’t always peel it. If you use a microplane grater, most of the peel stays out of the way. Because the ginger is so fine, you’ll have to take extra care not to burn. Start with a wok at medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add the grated ginger and stir fry for 15 seconds. Turn heat to high and immediately add your stir fry ingredients. Sometimes, I don’t add my ginger and garlic until the middle of the stir-fry process, to ensure that the delicate aromatics do not burn.
  • As a condiment: Sometimes I love sprinkling fresh ginger threads on top of my dumplings, steamed chicken, noodle soup or vegetables. I want the fresh, crisp, tingly sensation – but if the ginger piece is too thick, it’s just too strong and fibrous. If you are REALLY good with a knife and have the patience of a sloth-watcher, slice the ginger as thin as you can. But I’m not patient, nor really that deft with sharp, pointy objects. I cut off all the little knobs protruding from the main body of the ginger. I just want a nice 3″ smooth piece (save the nubs for #1 above). Peel ginger skin with vegetable peeler. Now continue using the vegetable peeler and peel paper-thin slices of the ginger root. After you’ve got a pile of slices, line them up and use your chef’s knife to cut further into ginger “threads.” You’ll end up with fairy angel thin slices that you can use fresh, uncooked.

***

PBS Telethon

One of the coolest things I’ve done this month was to see the live production of PBS’ fundraising telethon.  This is the legendary Jack Perkins and my friend Jen who is the producer of his Emmy Award winning show, the Gulf Coast Journal with Jack Perkins. Jen produced the lovely segment that I was featured in.

This is where all the magic happens. Look at all those buttons! I just want to push them ALL!!!!

Nice, expensive cameras that have long, thick cables, perfect for tripping 5’2″ Chinese girl with 3″ heels.

Support your local PBS and donate!



118 Responses to “Fresh Ginger Tips”

  1. Lizzy — 12/4/07 @ 2:29 pm

    Great tips on ginger! Fresh is so much better than the jarred crap.

  2. Nate — 12/4/07 @ 6:37 pm

    Even though I have a Microplane, I just use the box grater to grate my ginger. Good tip on the wrapping and freezing. And you’re right about watching out that the ginger and garlic don’t burn. Things can go from tasty to nasty in a few seconds.

  3. Amy — 12/4/07 @ 7:11 pm

    OOo I love the ginger roll idea.

  4. Mansi — 12/5/07 @ 12:39 am

    this was surely a great read Jaden! i am a strong beleiver of using fresh ginger or not using it at all:)

  5. maureen — 12/5/07 @ 12:45 am

    I peel my ginger, cut it into segments and put them in a jar of sherry which is stored in the fridge. Whenever I need some ginger if is ready to be chopped or grated. Sometimes I use the gingered sherry in a dish and then add more sherry to the jar.

  6. Cindy — 12/5/07 @ 1:47 am

    Wow,
    Never knew that I can store ginger that way,
    I have to try that myself,
    My ginger always dry out in the fridge…

  7. I always have fresh ginger on hand, so I really appreciate your tips. I really like the ginger roll one.

  8. Anali — 12/5/07 @ 11:57 am

    Thanks for the ginger tips! I just printed them out! Turns out I’ve been storing my ginger incorrectly. No wonder it goes bad.

  9. Janey — 12/7/07 @ 12:45 pm

    question, how long can you keep the ginger old? does it go bad?

  10. SteamyKitchen — 12/7/07 @ 12:50 pm

    Janey-
    In the refrig, yes, it does go bad – it will begin to mold and dry/shrivel up.

    In the freezer, wrapped tightly, it should last you a couple of months.

    xo,jaden

  11. Jaden, thanks for the link to my ginger entry on the old Lunch in a Box website on LiveJournal! In June 2007, though, the entire site moved to http://lunchinabox.net and all old posts have been imported — the ginger post is here with additional reader comments and trackbacks: http://lunchinabox.net/2007/05/04/speed-technique-freezing-ginger/

  12. Phil Williams — 12/12/07 @ 12:36 pm

    Tried the Fried Green Tomatoes. They were great. Being from Kentucky we already have a love for fried green tomatoes. A lot of restaurants in Lexington, KY serve fried green tomatoes every day. I liked the crunchiness (is this a word?) of your recipe. Normally I just dredge them in half corn meal half flour and fry them in a small amount of bacon grease & olive oil. Bacon grease for taste, olive oil for our health!! LOL I’m going to make the Rollo recipe today. Thanks, Phil W.

  13. LOL – I love the bit about the suffocating ginger.

    I have only just started using my microplane for grating ginger and garlic. It is so much easier than anything else I have used.

  14. maya — 12/15/07 @ 3:20 pm

    i love my microplane grater (i even have two of them). but peeling ginger and garlic with it almost always means peeling a piece of my finger along. i always slip and cut myself! do you have a trick to prevent that from happening? thanks!

  15. Thien-Kim — 12/31/07 @ 9:25 pm

    Here’s another tip for storing ginger in the fridge. Just take a jar (I use an old relish or salsa jar), fill with vodka. When I buy ginger, I peel it, cut into chunks and just plop them into the ginger. It keeps the ginger from drying out (which is what happens to me because I forgot about it) and you’ll have one mean ginger vodka shot!

  16. Ginger — 1/3/08 @ 5:36 pm

    I love the last tip with the vodka, duel purpose ginger use is always good. So strange to see ginger ginger everywhere as it is my name. I too rarely peel my ginger and the microplane is my ginger grating friend. I haven’t chopped ginger in years!

  17. Very nice :) btw very good tips i will use them. Some of them i did not knew.

  18. Accounting Girl — 4/29/08 @ 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the tip about storing leftover ginger. My husband and I don’t get to cook as often as we’d like and hate wasting food in between cooking days.

  19. [B][URL=http://www.wahm.com]Cooking Novice[/URL][/B] — 4/29/08 @ 8:12 pm

    Wow! All of this conversation makes me wish I was a better cook. Maybe I should look for a recipe that uses ginger to try out. You all make it sound wonderful.

  20. [URL=http://www.wahm.com]Cooking Novice[/URL] — 4/29/08 @ 8:13 pm

    Oops! It looks like I made a mess of my signature. Sorry.

  21. Pingback: Ginger « back to work again

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  24. rajura — 3/5/09 @ 7:30 pm

    If your a coffeeholic coin a finger of ginger and place them on top of fresh ground coffee and brew

  25. sharon — 4/22/09 @ 3:17 pm

    Grated ginger in mayonaise makes a great dip for artichokes and asparagras!…also shake grated ginger in a jar with chinese rice vinegar, honey and a pinch of salt for a great salad dressing or a marinaide for cherry tomatoes….

  26. kayenne — 7/12/09 @ 1:56 pm

    we’ve never kept ginger in the fridge, even those already sliced. i like to keep ginger in the woven bamboo basket where we keep the garlic and onions. the cut side dries up, but had never been a problem with molds or anything… what happens to our old ginger is that they start growing again from the knobs (unless only a small piece remains, then it shrivels up… after 2 weeks or so). hehe by then, you could probably bury them in a pot of soil to grow – i find those too mature, too fibrous.

    i love ginger in food, but can never stomach it as a beverage – either tea or mixed with fruit juice.

  27. Norine — 8/10/09 @ 2:51 pm

    I just wanted to let yoy know that I have found another use for the ceramic ginger grater. You can use it to grate Garlic as well.

  28. sandrar — 9/10/09 @ 5:05 pm

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  29. M — 10/20/09 @ 11:37 am

    Hey Jaden!

    Do you think it would work to mince garlic (with a mincer) and freeze in the same way? I have lots of leftover peeled garlic in my fridge that I won’t use before it goes bad.

    Thanks!

  30. Tara — 10/31/09 @ 11:53 pm

    Hello – thank you for your ginger tips. I also love the story about the suffocating ginger. I went raw for a year once – I got so sensitive to food that I too would almost cry when cutting fresh vegetables. :-) Honestly – I would apologize.

    I have a question about ginger, usually when I buy ginger it is a creamy yellow color. Recently some ginger I bought is quite dark inside – almost the color of the skin. The skin looks fresh and the smell is fresh too. What causes that – could freezing cause this darkening?

  31. Pingback: Freezing Ginger « FoodWise

  32. Jenny — 7/25/10 @ 11:44 am

    I didn’t know how long you could store ginger in the fridge, or the freezer, and that’s one reason I’ve been so hesitant to buy it. I never thought I could use a whole root at once, but now I know I can store it. Fantastic information.
    -Jenny
    Kitchen Scales

  33. Pingback: How to Store Ginger

  34. Alison — 8/18/10 @ 10:02 pm

    Great tips.
    We have never planted ginger, but our kids are always planting anything in our vegie garden, now we have just cultivated several buckets of beautiful ginger (we did not know what it was for 2 years but just left it alone) I am going to keep some fresh, freeze heaps and we have just seperated lots and lots and planted it out for a bigger crop next year. Thanks Kids!

  35. Catherine — 8/27/10 @ 1:10 am

    Thank you for the information on how to store the ginger.

  36. Andie — 9/13/10 @ 2:28 pm

    I’m late to this discussion but I have some hints that may be helpful.
    I usually have three or four pots of ginger growing, or getting ready to grow, and storage is essentially the same.

    I have the long, narrow “pots” that are about 8 inches wide and 8 inches deep.
    I fill them with half potting soil and half sharp sand (a coarser sand than the playground stuff) over a generous layer of shredded paper, black printed newspaper is okay.

    To start new plants just break off the little “toes” from the main rhizome and plant them about 2 inches deep and keep them moist until you see the sprouts then water every thee or four days.

    You can keep the roots or rhizomes themselves fresh for a long time by simply burying them in a container of clean sand and adding a little moisture every few days.
    When you need some, yank the whole thing out of the sand, cut off what you need and put it back. As long as there is minimal moisture in the sand, it will keep for weeks or even months and may sprout, which is okay.

    In growing ginger from the little buds, it takes about 5 months to get a root large enough to harvest but here again, you can pull up the entire plant, break off what you need and re-plant it and it should go on growing.
    Ginger, as long as it is not exposed to temps below 65 degrees, will grow quite well, even in the far north, as long as it is placed in a window that gets at least six hours of daylight.

    I freeze grated ginger in the “mini” ice cube trays and when frozen solid, transfer to a zippy freezer bag or sometimes vacuum seal measured amounts (by weight) that I will use for a particular recipe and keep that bag and the rest of the ingredients in a larger bag. This saves a great deal of time.
    I’m 71 and have been cooking and gardening most of my life so all this information is from experience.
    I also make a lot of crystallized ginger, in large batches.
    I don’t parboil the ginger, as is done in most recipes, I slice it and steam the slices, which retains more of the flavor than boiling to tenderize it. You can do the same and then cut the slices into matchsticks if you are going to add them to a dish.

  37. thank you all the tips… it is interesting to read all the tips.. thanks..

  38. Vivek — 6/13/11 @ 7:33 am

    I am crushing the ginger and putting it in a glass.. i daily take the tap water in this glass and drink. ginger remains in the glass, after 10-15 days i chnage the ginger.. is this good for health?

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  41. Natalie — 10/2/11 @ 6:09 pm

    Great tips on using ginger! My favorite is slicing the ginger up, you don’t need to peel it just wash thoroughly, put it in some water to boil…and taddaa Ginger tea…sooths the stomach and taste great! Even has a little kick to it the longer you boil it.

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  43. Nice post!

    I agree, there is nothing like fresh ginger as opposed to stuff from a jar.

    I used to work in a supermarket and I swear that some people have lost touch with reality regarding fresh food. Ginger is not the only example either!

  44. Patricia — 11/5/11 @ 4:53 pm

    How long will ginger tea keep? Can you freeze the ginger tea? I also make crystalized ginger, we eat it like candy!

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  47. Patty K. — 3/12/12 @ 2:50 pm

    I peeled my ginger and ground it in my small chopper (easypeasy) and froze it like …you know…like that thing you may have done in college. worked great ;D

  48. Patty K. — 3/12/12 @ 2:53 pm

    I peeled, cut in chunks and chopped fine in my small chopper. Then froze in a roll like…you know…like that thing you may or may not have done in college! lol

  49. Sarah — 5/4/12 @ 4:54 am

    Thanks for the tips. I did try to freeze mine but when i defrosted, the outside was kinda soggy. Maybe i froze for too long?

    >>Hi Sarah – the ginger will be wetter, but that won’t change how you use it. It will be just as wonderful tasting as fresh ginger. ~Jaden

  50. Misty — 6/6/12 @ 4:00 pm

    There seems to be a blue ring in my ginger root. Is this an indication of it going bad? It’s still juicy and looks great. smells great, and I think it tasts fine.

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