Galangal is a spice and the rhizome of a plant in the ginger family. It is also known as Thai ginger and kulanjan. Galangal is best known for its use in several classic Thai dishes that need its piney, citrusy flavor for their intense and complex flavor profiles. As with ginger, most people will buy more galangal than they can use right away. You can freeze galangal to extend, and it takes well to freezing.
Galangal does have a long shelf life at room temperature, but freezing is the best way to store it long-term. Frozen galangal can last up to nine months. Frozen and thawed galangal has a very similar flavor profile compared to the fresh rhizome, but the texture might be different. Here is what you will need to do to freeze galangal successfully.
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Freezing it whole (no prep)
The fastest and easiest method is simply to freeze the whole rhizome. Some people believe that freezing it with the skin intact helps preserve its flavor and nutritional value. Note that choosing this method will save you time now, but you will still have to spend some time preparing the galangal when you want to use it. Start by washing the rhizome and letting it dry before placing it in a resealable freezer bag. If you know exactly how much you will use in a recipe, cut it into portions before freezing.
When you are ready to use frozen galangal, simply let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before peeling and grating or slicing. The galangal will be so easy to peel, you can use a spoon to do it instead of a knife or vegetable peeler. While it is still frozen, galangal may also be easier to slice and grate — galangal is woody and difficult to grate at room temperature.
Prepped galangal freezing options
Peel and slice galangal before freezing it if you intend to use it in dishes like tom kha soup. Place the number of slices you will need into a small resealable freezer bag and then store in the freezer. Like ginger, galangal can be mushy when thawed from frozen. The consistency won’t matter in tom kha soup, since the rhizome is only there to provide flavor, which will be almost the same as fresh galangal.
To make things easier when cooking, prep the galangal before freezing it. Start by peeling the fresh galangal. If the rhizome is tender enough, you can grate it; pound or grind the galangal into a paste if it is tough. You then have two options for freezing it:an ice cube tray or you can flash freeze it on a baking sheet.
The ice cube method
For the ice cube method, just divide it between the compartments. When the galangal is fully frozen, remove it from the tray and place it in resealable freezer bags. Toss a cube or two of galangal into your dish when you need it.
Flash freezing galangal
Flash freeze galangal by lining a baking sheet with wax paper or cling film; alternatively, you can spray the baking sheet with nonstick spray before placing piles of the grated or pounded galangal on it. Try to make each portion size the amount that you would need to make a dish. Keep the piles symmetrical to keep them from breaking too easily once frozen and try to make sure they don’t touch. Place them in the freezer until the galangal is completely frozen, then remove from the baking sheet and store in resealable freezer bags for long-term storage.