5 Useful Things to Know About Fresh Ginger

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Olga Miltsova)

Whether used in tea and marinades or to stir-fries and desserts, ginger plays the role of spice and warmth in a huge variety of dishes. This knobby root brings a bright and fiery kick with pungent flavor that carries just a hint of sweetness. Here are a few things you should know to make the most of this kitchen standby.

1. Use your senses to pick the knob of ginger.

Knowing what to look for is the key to getting maximum flavor from fresh ginger. Go for ginger with thin, shiny, taut skin, with a pungent and spicy aroma (yes, it’s okay to smell before you buy!).

2. A plastic bag and the crisper drawer will keep ginger fresh longer.

There are a few different ways to store whole unpeeled fresh ginger. But when you use it regularly, keeping it in a resealable plastic bag inside the crisper drawer of the fridge is your best bet for longer-lasting freshness.

3. Grate and store fresh ginger in the freezer so it’s always handy.

Not only is tackling the prep and freezing right away a smart way to keep ginger fresh longer, but it’s also a time-saver whenever you need to punch up a sauce, stir-fry, or smoothie.

4. Use heat to manipulate the flavor of ginger.

The presence or absence of heat impacts the type of flavor ginger imparts. Raw ginger delivers a fresh and fiery burn. After cooking, ginger, while still pungent, turns more mellow and even sweet.

5. Whatever you do, don’t toss the peels.

The next time you peel a knob of ginger, don’t be so quick to toss those peels in the trash. Even though you won’t want to eat them as is, there are some smart ways to make use of them. Use them when steaming veggies or fish or making stock, or try adding them to a marinade.