Ginger leaps off the plate with zesty notes of lemon, pepper, and earthy sweetness. It practically croons its own melody. This light yellow root has more flavor than anything you’d taste from an entire plate of radishes or cabbage, and that spicy kick followed by lemony freshness livens up any meal with minimal effort. Ginger is especially popular in Asian cuisine and is often found enhancing the flavor of traditional Chinese soup dumplings, among other dishes.
Fresh ginger is fiery, refreshing, and incredibly aromatic. It's also versatile. You can prepare it any number of ways and even freeze it for quick use in your next kitchen adventure.
First Things First: How to peel ginger
Ginger root can look a little intimidating. After all, it has all those knobby parts that branch out every which way, with a skin that seems tough, papery, and practically fused to the root. Peeling the skins — for those who prefer ginger this way — doesn’t require the help of a fairy godmother waving her magic wand. All you need to do is follow a few simple tips:
- Use fresh ginger. Young, fresh ginger has softer, shinier skin than the dried-out ginger you've had at the back of your fridge for weeks. Plus the younger roots have softer fibers and a juicier texture. With ginger, fresher is better.
- Soak the root. Letting ginger soak in warm water for a few minutes can help to soften the skins.
Use a spoon. When you're ready to peel ginger, reach for a spoon, not a vegetable peeler. Why? The spoon is much better for scraping away the skin without taking root flesh with it. Why waste good ginger when you could add it to herbal tea or sprinkle it in carrot cake batter?
What About the Skins?
Don’t toss them. Use them! Ginger skins can make a zesty ginger broth that’s perfect for adding punchy bursts of flavor to other dishes.
To get started, gather the discarded skins, toss them in water, and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat so the skins simmer for about 30 minutes. Once the broth is ready, separate the skins from the liquid. You can add this tasty ginger broth to your favorite recipes, perhaps to steam veggies or to use as a water substitute when boiling egg noodles.
6 Ways to Prepare and Freeze Ginger
Some types of foods don't get along well with your freezer. Ginger is different. Here are six of our favorite ways to prepare ginger for the freezer, along with our favorite recipes that incorporate this fiery root. Note that all methods start with peeled ginger.
1. Thin Ginger Slices
This one requires a steady hand, so you might want to try cut-resistant gloves for more support. With a firm hold on the root, make very thin slices using a knife, a vegetable peeler, or a mandolin tool. Try to cut on the diagonal so the fibers are more dispersed. This way, you won’t get the long, stringy fibers running from top to bottom. Spread a thin layer of ginger slices in an airtight container, and use parchment paper for stacking additional layers. Freeze.
2. Ginger Rounds
Unlike ginger slices that are paper-thin and cut lengthwise, ginger rounds are thicker-cut medallions cut crosswise. When cut this way, they look a bit like coins. Carefully slice the ginger into round medallions that are about 1/8-inch thick. Spread out the rounds on a cookie sheet and flash freeze for eight hours or until solid. Transfer the frozen rounds to an airtight container and return them to the freezer.
3. Ginger Matchsticks
Julienne ginger matchsticks have a delicate, feathery look that makes them ideal for garnish. To get started, cut the ginger lengthwise into long planks and then cut each one into thin matchsticks, about 1/8-inch to 1/16-inch thick. You can also stack the planks to reduce cutting time, but make sure they don't slide around.
Spread the matchsticks onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about two hours or until solid. Then, transfer them to an airtight container and freeze them for later.
4. Minced Ginger
This one requires a bit more work! First, follow the instructions above for julienne matchsticks. Then, stack the matchsticks into bundles and cut crosswise, about 1/8-inch thick, until you have small cubes of zesty, minced ginger.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread 1-teaspoon portions of minced ginger evenly across the sheet. You can also use a silicone mold to keep portions separate (or if you prefer to keep dish-washing to a minimum). Flash freeze the ginger until solid, transfer to an airtight container, and return to the freezer.
5. Grated Ginger and Ginger Paste
For grated ginger, grate the roots against a Microplane grater to help cut through the fibrous texture. You’ll end up with little piles of micro-cut ginger. For ginger paste, chop ginger into cubes — no need to be precise — and toss the lot into a food processor, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of a neutral-tasting oil.
Get yourself a handy ice cube tray with a resealable lid and drop 1-teaspoon mounds into each section. You can also place small mounds onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Freeze about one to two hours or until solid, and then store.
6. Ginger Juice
To juice your way to better health, feed the ginger through the juicer and pour the ginger liquid into lidded ice cube trays. For the blender method, chop the ginger into smaller pieces and put them in the blender along with 1/2 cup of water or coconut water. Press “pulse” until the mixture is nicely blended, and add more water if things are looking a bit dry. Strain the pulp with a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve, and pour the ginger liquid into lidded ice cube trays. For either method, freeze two to three hours or until solid.
Now you’re ready to ginger-up your day. Ginger has punchy flavor and enough versatility to make any dish an instant success. From the subtle sweetness of candied ginger to the zing of Asian coleslaw with miso-ginger dressing, there’s no end to the ways you can prepare and use ginger root. Try it in your next recipe and let us know what you think!