Both dried and fresh ginger come from the underground stem of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) which is a part of the Zingiberaceae family. This means that the ginger plant is related to other spices like turmeric and cardamom. Ginger is a popular spice used to flavor beverages like ginger ale and ginger beer and is an important ingredient in a variety of Asian cuisines as well. It is used in dishes from the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. It is from China but spread throughout the world on the spice routes that existed as early as the first century.
The forms of ginger that are most familiar to Americans are the fresh form which involves peeling and chopping or grating the ginger, and the dried and ground form. This week on SPICEography Showdown, let’s take a look at how these two forms compare to each other and how to choose which one to use.
Do fresh and dried ginger taste the same?
Fresh ginger has a flavor that can be described as fiery and pungent. Some experts describe the scent as similar to that of camphor while being peppery like cloves. When it is cooked in its fresh form, ginger tenderizes and spreads its flavor to everything it touches.
The strong flavor of fresh ginger is more complex but it can be somewhat diluted due to the fact that it has more moisture than its dried counterpart. It is also important to note that fresh ginger’s essential oils can disappear at high temperatures, thus affecting the flavor.
In its ground and dried form, ginger still retains its spicy kick but with less of the flavor complexities that you would get with the fresh form. However, ground ginger has the benefit of being able to withstand higher cooking temperatures without no change in the flavor.
Can you use ground ginger as a substitute for fresh ginger and vice versa?
Each form can be used as a substitute for the other but only in a pinch. If you use ground ginger in place of fresh, you should use less of it as your dish may be too spicy otherwise. You should also expect to the lose some of the additional flavor notes that the fresh form brings to a dish. If you use fresh ginger in place of ground ginger, you will have to use more and you may need to grind it finely as chunks of ginger may affect the texture of your dish.
If you do have to substitute one for the other, remember that 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger is equal to 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger.
Is fresh ginger better for you than ground ginger?
The drying process does remove some of some of the gingerol content. Gingerols are phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties. However, the process may actually increase levels of other healthy compounds such as shogaol. Shogaol has similar health benefits to the gingerols. This means that both the dried and fresh forms are beneficial with the fresh form being (arguably) slightly better.