Ginger is a popular and versatile spice that is heavily used in multiple Asian food cultures, as well as in dishes from the West Indies and Europe. It is one of those spices that serious home cooks tend to keep around. Ginger also happens to be one of the easiest spices to preserve. It can last for a few days on the kitchen counter, providing its environment is not excessively hot. There are also numerous ways to keep fresh ginger usable for the medium and long term. Here are some of the best ways to store ginger for the best flavor.
Choose the freshest ginger
The most important part of extending your ginger’s shelf life is to start with the freshest ginger. Look for ginger with no wrinkles in the peel, which are strong indicators that it’s going bad. You should also check for signs of mold before buying.
Dry your ginger
Drying is one of the oldest ways of preserving a spice. Dried ginger doesn’t taste exactly like fresh ginger, but the most recognizable flavor elements will still be there. Drying can extend the shelf life of ginger to several years. The easiest way to dry ginger is to use an appliance that most home cooks have: the oven. Place ginger slices on a baking sheet and stick them in a low oven. Set the oven to its lowest setting and then crack the door to make sure it never reaches it. Your ginger slices should be dry within an hour or two. You can also dry ginger in the sun or with a food dehydrator.
Refrigerate your ginger
Storing ginger in the refrigerator can extend its life from a few days to more than a week. If it is fresh, you may be able to store it for a couple of weeks or more, but you should use it sooner than later for the best flavor. Keep ginger from drying out by leaving the peel on and placing it in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze as much air as possible out of it before placing it in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
Grated ginger or ginger that has been ground to a paste can also be stored in the refrigerator, but you should only do this if you plan to use it quickly since the shelf life will be much shorter than that of whole ginger. Store grated or ground ginger in a jar or other airtight container.
Other ways to store ginger in the refrigerator include pickling it in a brine made with rice wine vinegar. Thinly slice the ginger with a mandolin before cooking the brine, cooling it and pouring it over the ginger. Ginger is also sometimes stored in alcohol, with vodka and sherry being the two most popular options. In addition to preserving the ginger, the alcohol takes on its flavor and can be used in cocktails.
Ginger freezes very well, and freezing can help it to keep for months with almost the same flavor it had when fresh. You can freeze whole ginger easily by sticking it into a freezer bag and then the freezer. You can also freeze grated or ground ginger in an ice cube tray or flash freeze it on a baking sheet before moving it to freezer bags for long-term storage.