With its assertive, bright flavor, ginger is one ingredient I frequently rely on to add an extra pop of flavor and heat to both sweet and savory dishes. As a food blogger and home cook with over a decade of experience, I’ve learned a great deal about how to select, prepare, and cook with fresh ginger root.
In this article, I’ll share my tips for maximizing ginger’s flavor, suggest versatile ways to use it in cooking, and summarize the health perks this ancient rhizome offers. Whether you want to step up your ginger usage or need a refresher, read on for a comprehensive look at this aromatic spice!
Ginger Basics – A Root With Origins in Asia
Ginger is the knobby, underground rhizome or stem of the Zingiber officinale plant, native to parts of Asia. It boasts a tan skin and a firm, juicy flesh that can range from yellow to red in color. When fresh, it has a bright, lemon-pepper flavor with just a hint of heat.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as both a culinary spice and traditional medicine. Today, it’s popular across cuisines from Asian to Latin American for its ability to enhance other flavors. The ground, dried version has a more mellow, warm flavor.
Selecting and Prepping Fresh Ginger Root
Since fresh ginger has the most “zing”, I choose firm, unshriveled roots whenever possible. I look for smooth, taut skin without wrinkles or mold. The freshest ginger will snap cleanly rather than bend.
Prepping ginger is simple: I scrape off the thin skin with a spoon or peeler, then grate, mince, slice, or julienne it depending on the recipe. Pro tip: freeze unused ginger in a freezer bag for later! It grates easily when frozen.
Incorporating Ginger Into Sweet and Savory Dishes
I love experimenting with ways to use fresh ginger in the kitchen.
Here are some of my go-to’s:
- Stir fries, curries, and noodle or rice dishes
- Smoothies, juices, teas, and lemonade
- Marinades and dressings for chicken, fish, or veggies
- Baked goods like cookies, muffins, and quick breads
- Homemade candied or pickled ginger for sushi
A little goes a long way, so start with 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger at a time until you achieve the desired punch of flavor.
The Impressive Health Benefits of Ginger
In addition to its outstanding flavor, ginger boasts an array of health-promoting compounds. Science suggests that ginger may:
- Aid digestion and relieve nausea or motion sickness
- Lower blood sugar levels and improve heart health
- Reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis
- Boost immunity against illness and infection
I love sprinkling ginger into my diet to take advantage of those benefits! It’s such a simple way to add both flavor and wellness.
Storing Ginger For Maximum Freshness
To keep ginger fresh for longer, I recommend:
- Store unpeeled in a loose plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge. It will last 2-3 weeks this way.
- You can also freeze peeled, grated ginger in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Avoid leaving it sitting out on the counter, as it will shrivel quickly.
I hope these tips help you maximize the flavor and health benefits of ginger! Let me know if you have any other ginger-related questions.