Ginger 101

To some people, ginger is just a scary root that looks like it belongs in a Harry Potter film. This tasty spice is super versatile and can add some bite to any dish. Never touched the stuff while studying culinary arts programs? Read on to learn how to store, cut and use ginger in your cooking.

Storing ginger
Unlike other root veggies like potatoes and garlic, ginger doesn’t last long at room temperature. You may set it on the counter only to find it has gone soft in a few days. To avoid this, store ginger in the freezer. There, it will keep its hard consistency. Some people simply toss it in the freezer as-is and others prefer to cut off the knobs and remove the peel. Whether or not you do these steps depends on how you use the ginger. You can eat the peel, keeping it on in the freezer and using a grater to get the ginger you want, or you may use a vegetable peeler and a teaspoon to take it off. If you’d like, toss the root in a container or bag and then stick it in the freezer. You’ll have ginger on hand for whenever you need it.

Things to make with ginger
Many Asian recipes call for fresh ginger, chopped up and added to stir fry or fried rice. Many people swear by it as a stomachache-easer. They simply chop off some ginger and put it in boiling water to make tea. You don’t have to peel the root, just put a chunk in a teacup, add water and drink. The Kitchn recommends adding some honey, lemon and potentially bourbon if you want to combat a cough or just add some extra flavor.

Have you ever had sushi? The thin pink strips that are often included with your raw fish are bits of pickled ginger. When added to vinegar, sugar and other pickling ingredients, the root looses its bite and becomes sweet. Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly of New York City’s Bar Sardine told Serious Eats that you can pickle ginger in as little as 12 hours so long as it is very thinly-sliced. For thicker pieces, it’s best to wait at least 24 hours before indulging. You can add pickled ginger to salads, soups, and just about any meal for some sweet, tangy flavor.

Plenty of grocery stores and health food shops sell ginger in its candied form. This sweet treat is great to suck on when you’re not feeling so hot, or if you just dig the taste. Tipnut makes candied ginger in a slowcooker by adding ginger, sugar, corn syrup and water and simmering the mix for 24 hours. Your entire home will be filled with a sweet aroma and this method is only hands-on when you cut the ginger before placing it in the cooker and after, if you sprinkle the candies with added sugar. The candy makes a great gift for friends who enjoy cooking, and you can even add it to meals as if it were regular ginger for some extra-sweet spice.

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