How to prep and store fresh ginger root

sliced ginger root
CC BY 2.0 Kjokkenutstyr Net

This wonderful ingredient can appear finicky, but there are some clever tricks that make it easier to use.

I cook a lot of Indian food, which means that several times a week, I wage battle with a chunk of fresh ginger root. It's my least favorite moment of cooking, as I struggle to trim the gnarly, knobby root with a paring knife and then finely chop its hairy, fibrous center, but I persist because there is nothing quite so divine as the flavor of fresh ginger in a curry or dal.

It never occurred to me that there might be another way to handle ginger root until I stumbled across an article in Serious Eats called "How to prepare and store ginger." My eyes widened as I read it; apparently, I've been wasting time and energy all along, and there are several significantly easier ways to prep ginger for use. Perhaps you know some of these techniques already, in which case your kitchen craft is further developed than mine -- or you may have a revelation, as I did.

1. Ginger doesn't have to be peeled. The skin is edible and tasteless; its only downside is adding undesirable texture to certain dishes if it's not chopped finely enough.

2. But if you want to peel it... there are some time-tested methods. Use a vegetable peeler to get most of it off, then switch to a spoon. This is "good for scraping away any remaining skin trapped within the grooves and nooks of the knob," says Sohla El-Waylly. I once read in Bon App├ętit that a chopstick is also good for scraping the skin off ginger root, though I haven't tried it yet. Usually I use a paring knife and cut as much of the skin off as I can, though I do lose some of the root in the process.

3. Always slice it across the grain. There are tough fibers in ginger, which means it's important to cut thin slices across the grain to break these down. El-Waylly recommends breaking off the various lumps and bumps to make it easier to slice. Then you can mince the slices finely with a knife or pop them in a blender, which leads to the next step...

4. Make ginger puree. If you use a lot of ginger on a regular basis, this tidbit might change your life. Toss the thinly sliced, unpeeled ginger into a blender, add enough water to get it moving, and blend till smooth. This can be used immediately or frozen (more on that below).

5. Grate the fresh root, peeled or unpeeled. Grating is another great way to prep ginger quickly for cooking. Use a microplane to get a fine, mushy pulp or buy one of these cool specialized ginger graters, which TreeHugger's editor Melissa loves using.

6. Freeze. Ginger freezes beautifully in both pureed and whole root form. As a puree, put it in a plastic bag (a reused milk bag would be good for this, Canadians), flatten, and break off a chunk for cooking as needed. It will defrost quickly. Online commenters recommend plopping little rounds of ginger puree on a baking sheet and freezing before transferring to a container, or freezing in an ice cube tray. Alternatively, put the entire root in the freezer and grate chunks as needed; there's no need to defrost prior.

7. Store in the fridge. You can also keep ginger in the fridge for several weeks. Store in a sealed container and if there's a cut edge, blot it dry before refrigerating.

How do you store and use fresh ginger?

How to prep and store fresh ginger root
This wonderful ingredient can appear finicky, but there are some clever tricks that make it easier to use.

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