Fresh ginger is an extremely popular ingredient and one I always keep on hand. It’s used in a variety of ethnic cuisines and packs a flavor punch to any dish that you put it in. I’ve used it in both savory and sweet dishes, from curries, to salads, to desserts, and even hot ginger tea. It’s a versatile ingredient and actually has a number of health benefits.
When shopping for fresh ginger, you want to find one that looks firm, and has moist roots that feel heavy for their size. You will often find a rough, dried patch where a section may have been cut or broken off. Don’t worry about that, what you want to make sure is the inside is not dried and shriveled.
Once you find a good piece of ginger you need to master how to prepare it. Have you ever tried to peel it yourself? It can be a huge pain and also a bit nerve racking.
The surface is often not smooth making it somewhat difficult, and dangerous, to use a sharp traditional peeler or knife. Don’t be discouraged because there is easier option that chefs around the world recommend.
The correct way to peel ginger is with a spoon!
It makes so much sense. The edges of a spoon are hard enough to slide the skin right off and safely allow you to peel the entire block of ginger safely. Once we found this out there was no going back and it certainly encouraged us to use more ginger in our cooking.
How To Peel Ginger With A Spoon
Here is a very simple step by step for how to peel:
- Hold the ginger root in your non-dominant hand and the spoon in the other.
- Grasp just below the bowl of the spoon so you are in control.
- Run the tip the spoon down the side of the ginger root repeatedly scrapping at the skin.
- You can use the tip of the spoon to reach into those tough to get nooks of the ginger.
- After a few strokes the ginger skin should come off with ease.
Note when peeling ginger, you don’t need to remove every bit of skin. As long as you get the majority of the ginger skin, you’re ready to use it in your recipes. Ginger skin is technically edible, but as it ages, the ginger skin can have a bitter taste.
Also, whether or not you peel your ginger can depend on how you’re planning on using it. For example, if you want to make tea or smoothies, there’s no need to peel the skin. But, if you’re planning on cooking with ginger, it’s best to peel it first.
While not as good as a spoon it’s also possible to peel ginger with a vegetable peeler. In the same way you would use the spoon, you want to start to peel the skin from the root and move carefully. Simply slide the peeler over the ginger which should handle bumps and nubs without a problem, but use caution since its very easy to slip and cut yourself.
Compared to a knife or peeler a spoon is quick, efficient, and minimizes waste. Getting in all the nooks allows you to get the most out of your fresh ginger and prevents you from peeling off too much with the skin. Other tools like peelers are too thick and you end up with a lot of wasted product.
How To Mince And Prepare
Once you’ve removed the skin from your ginger root, you are ready to slice, mince, and grate it as necessary. There are two ways to do this one by hand with the other using a microplane.
To mince by hand, you can either cut the shapes into slices or strips, both using a large, sharp knife. The slices should go crosswise with the thinner slices resulting in a finer the mince. Cut the coins into strips instead if you want to line them up and dice into little cubes. At the end you’ll want to run your knife through making sure you break down any bigger pieces you may have missed.
You can also use a microplane if you want superfine, or even pureed, ginger. Simply rub the ginger on the microplane using a fair amount of pressure, while being cautious as you get to the end of your piece. This will generate some pulp on the back of the microplane and is much closer to a traditional asian way to prepare.
Whichever route you choose should allow you to extract the flavor from the ginger into any dish you are preparing.
Ginger Storage And Shelf Life
Ginger will last out on your kitchen counter for a few days but not much longer. The best way to store it is to wrap it in paper towels and then in plastic before keeping it in your refrigerator’s crisper. Stored like this the ginger can last for up to a month, while peeled and chopped ginger will stay fresh up to a week in the fridge. Another good way to store it is in the freezer and for added convenience peel and mince it first before tightly wrapping in plastic. If your ginger root is soft or you notice the edges have started to darken, it’s time to throw it away.
While you can find ginger year-round in most markets it does have a season. Young ginger root can be found in the spring time, typically in Asian markets. It isn’t as potent as the grocery store ginger but still has a fresh lively taste and a less fibrous texture. Another plus is it hardly has any skin so it doesn’t need to be peeled (see below).
Ginger is one of our favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen and knowing how to prepare it is a huge benefit for chefs of any level. While we prefer the spoon method you may be skilled enough to do it with a knife. No matter how you decide to peel and prep just make sure you don’t waste any flesh by focusing on getting off just the skin.
If you don’t currently cook with ginger we highly suggest the next time you are in the grocery store to try some out.