Throwing away food really does feel like throwing away money to me – I can’t stand it, and it just tears my heart out to pitch food that’s gone bad (especially if it’s leftovers that got “left” a little too long, because that’s not only money but my time, an even more precious commodity!!).
As much as I hate wasting food, I also have a peculiar impulse buying habit when it comes to produce. Weird, I know – for most women it’s cute shoes or toddler dresses, right?
When I see a recipe that has an ingredient I don’t usually stock, I usually skip over it the first time. But once I’ve seen that ingredient crop up in a few recipes or a really, really tasty or intriguing looking one, it sticks in my head. Then if I see it at the grocery store or farmer’s market, a blip goes off in my brain:
“Heyyyyyyy, I know you! I’ve seen you in a recipe I know I really wanted to make! You’re coming home with me…”
Sometimes I end up never being able to find the recipe again, and other times I just don’t find (or make) the time to jump into whatever new technique I thought I should try right away before the lovely produce turns to mush.
I typically let the offending fridge-squatting visitor get really, really, clearly far gone, because if something is just a little past its prime, I feel even worse about wasting – even though intellectually I realize that throwing it away is throwing it away, whether it had 5% of its life left or negative 50%.
Such was the story with a sad piece of ginger, abandoned for two months in the very back corner of the meat and cheese drawer not once but twice, then finally brought to its demise, punky and wrinkled.
Until I learned that it doesn’t have to end that way, even if I can’t curb my crazy impulse buying habits when I’m encountered with the tantalizing prospect of a fresh piece of…fruit or vegetable.
Saving the Ginger – & the Best Part of the Tip!
No kidding. You don’t even have to do anything special to it in case you’re low on time (who isn’t?), AND it even serves to make it easier to grate.
It’s a no-brainer to freeze your fresh ginger as soon as you can. If you still write “freeze ginger-” on your to-do list for 5 days straight and never get to it, just know that you’re still not alone. You of course choose to peel your ginger, which takes a little longer, right?
How to Freeze Fresh Ginger
Because I don’t really want to deal with peeling frozen ginger or washing the rough surface of a ginger root, I always peel it first.
You can use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife — I use a paring knife because ginger is so knobby and uneven, a peeler gets tricky. (One reader uses a spoon, but I forgot to try that!)
UPDATE: The comments are alive with spoon-lovers — I can’t wait to try it! Also, at least one says that if you freeze unpeeled ginger, the peel sort of just gets out of the way as you microplane it! Awesome! Finally, if you want to ferment a “ginger bug” be sure to leave the peel on, as the beneficial bacteria are there.
Remember as you’re peeling that you don’t have to keep the ginger whole or beautiful. Cut yourself some slack on perfectionism and just slice off the knobs and then peel them, rather than trying to get the paring knife into the divots and valleys of the ginger. It doesn’t have to take very long.
Peeled ginger can be frozen in large chunks (in the plastic bag in the photo above), and then you can grate it with a microplane grater while frozen for dishes where you need a teaspoon or tablespoon of minced or grated ginger.
And in fact, if you’ve ever attempted to grate fresh ginger root, you’ve probably noticed how awfully fibrous and stringy it can get – it really gets hung up in the peeler and is quite annoying. Not frozen! Frozen ginger will grate smoothly without all the strings that make it seem like a close cousin of celery.
I also like to freeze some in thin slices so I can just pull it out to make ginger tea or ginger ale. Try to freeze slices very flat in a plastic bag so they’re separated. If everything really sticks together in the freezer, you might use ice cube trays to freeze initially so that just a few pieces are stuck together, enough for one serving of tea, for example:
If you have a really nice food processor that can handle grating hard cheeses like Parmesan, it might also handle fresh raw ginger, unfrozen. In that case, you could grate all of it and freeze in ice cube trays in one-teaspoon servings. (My food processor is not that cool.)
UPDATE: Amanda Rose shared an excellent time-saving peeling tip – that you don’t have to peel the little knobby parts! Here’s what she does with them.
How to Get Your Fresh Ginger Drunk
If you use this fun method of storage, perhaps your ginger will get even more fresh. Mwah.
A number of readers say that you can preserve ginger in alcohol in the fridge:
- Puree it with a little vodka and store cold
- Cover ginger slices with sherry, in the fridge
- Peel the whole root and cover with vodka – will last many months in the fridge in a glass jar
If you have leftover fresh ginger and are feeling green thumb-ish, put it in some soil in a pot and it will take root!
And if all this “fresh” stuff just isn’t your thing, you can get bulk dried ginger root (not powdered) for things like tea at Mountain Rose Herbs, along with jarred minced ginger (I wonder if that’s as good as fresh???), pickled ginger, and a variety of ginger teas at Vitacost.
This post is part of The Ginger Challenge Series here at KS – follow along by buying some ginger. Get it in your freezer and be ready to try some new things with it as the month goes on!