Over the years, Fine Cooking readers have written to us with their favorite ways to store fresh ginger—the topic is a recurrent theme in the magazine's Tips department. Since this aromatic spice is also a popular ingredient in many of our recipes, both sweet and savory (see Roasted Winter Vegetables with Maple-Ginger Glaze, Ginger Ice Cream, Tuna Burgers with Ginger & Cilantro, Triple-Ginger Cheesecake, and Turkey Soup with Ginger, Lemon & Mint among others), we decided to put some of these suggestions, plus some of our own ideas, to the test.
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We started with the freshest ginger we could find. Fresh ginger should be firm, almost hard, with unwrinkled skin, and possess a strong gingery aroma. You might assume that small, tender, thin-skinned ginger the choicest, but actually it's the mature, tough-skinned type that have the most intense spicy flavor.
For our experiment, we stored ginger in 11 different ways for an eight-week period.
- Six jars of freshly peeled ginger went into the fridge submerged in various spirits and acidic liquids: vodka, dry sherry, sake, rice wine, rice vinegar, and fresh lime juice.
- Four unpeeled chunks went into the vegetable crisper: one in a plain paper bag; one wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed in a paper bag; one in a zip-top bag; and one wrapped in dry paper towels and then put in a zip-top bag.
- Following a reader's tip, we "planted" one chunk of fresh unpeeled ginger in a pot of soil.
Want to use up your fresh ginger now? Check out drinks blogger Camper English's recipe for Homemade Ginger Beer.
The results: zip-top bag and vodka lead the pack
The ginger stored in lime juice failed after just a few weeks when the liquid became cloudy and appeared rancid. All the peeled submerged ginger retained a definite ginger flavor (the sherry ginger came in last) and were still going strong at eight weeks, but the clear winner was the ginger stored in vodka, which produced firm, crisp ginger that still had a strong flavor.
The ginger stored in the vegetable crisper produced very diverse results. In this category, the runaway winner was the unpeeled ginger stored in a ziptop bag without any wrapping—the ginger stayed fresh, firm, and wrinkle-free for the entire eight weeks. The plain paper bag gave us wrinkly ginger after just a few weeks. The ginger wrapped in plastic and then put in a paper bag stayed fresher a little longer, but it still got wrinkly before the test was up. The paper towel wrapped ginger got moldy after a few weeks.
As for the ginger planted in soil, it stayed quite fresh, and it also yielded some lovely foliage, which may have been due to the fact that I feed my plants regularly.
In light of my experiments, I've decided to store my fresh, unpeeled ginger in a zip-top bag in my vegetable crisper, as long as I plan to use it within two months. Any longer than that, I'll peel the ginger and use the vodka method. I haven't tried this yet myself, but I'm guessing that ginger-infused vodka might make a great martini.