See also ginger powder.
Fresh ginger, or gingerroot, is the gnarled and bumpy root of a tropical plant in the Zingiberacae family. It has tan skin and flesh that may range in color from ivory to light green.
With a pungent, spicy aroma and sweet peppery flavor, ginger is extremely popular in Asian and Indian cooking. Sliced, chopped or crushed, fresh ginger is generally used to flavor meat, fish, poultry and vegetables.
Ginger is available in many forms, including:
The type found at most supermarkets, this fresh ginger has a tough, outer skin that must be peeled away to reveal the desirable flesh just underneath the surface.
Young (Spring Ginger)
With a pale, thin skin, this type of fresh ginger does not require peeling. Milder in flavor and aroma, it can be found at many Asian markets in the springtime.
Extracted from the root and pasteurized, this juice can be used as a substitute for fresh chopped ginger in equal amounts.
These thin slices of ginger are preserved in sweetened rice vinegar and most often used as a garnish or condiment in Japanese cuisine. Also called sushi ginger, it may be dyed pink or left in its natural ivory color.
Crystallized or Candied
This is ginger that's been cooked in syrup and coated with coarse sugar. These gold-colored bits, slices or sticks are commonly used to flavor meats, poultry, desserts and glazes. They can also be eaten out of hand as a snack (or used as a natural remedy for motion or morning sickness).
Dried Ground Ginger
Found in the spice aisle, this ginger powder is most commonly used to flavor sweet desserts and some savory dishes. Its hot, spicy-sweet flavor is very different from fresh, and it should not be used as a substitute.
Look for fresh ginger with smooth skins and a fresh, spicy fragrance. Wrinkles and cracks indicate the ginger is dry and past its prime.
Fresh, unpeeled gingerroot can be stored tightly plastic-wrapped in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. It can also be conveniently frozen for up to six months. When ready to use, simply slice off what you need and return the rest to the freezer.
- When peeling ginger, be careful to remove only a thin layer of skin. Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, or simply run a spoon along the ginger to scrape it away.
- Freezing ginger makes it easier to slice, grate and crush.
- For instant minced ginger, put a small piece in a garlic press and squeeze.
- Add fresh ginger to stir-fries, stocks and marinades.
- Add chopped crystallized ginger to baked goods or sprinkle over ice cream.
- Dip crystallized ginger in melted chocolate for an exotic snack.