It’s human nature to buy more food than we can eat before it spoils, especially when it’s an item we’re not quite sure how much we’re going to need. Unless you grew up with it, galangal tends to be one of those ingredients. When you’ve used what you needed and have a significant chunk of root leftover, you might be wondering what to do with it to keep it from being wasted.
Can you freeze galangal? Yes, you certainly can. Freezing galangal can be done as long as you do NOT take the peel off before freezing. You also want to make sure that you’ve cleaned the galangal before you place it in the freezer.
In this quick guide, you’ll learn best practices of how to freeze galangal for optimal long-term freshness, as well as a few other storage options that might come in handy.
What is Galangal?
Galangal, pronounced just as it’s spelled, is a tropical plant closely related to ginger. Galangal also looks very similar and is used a lot like its fragrant cousin.
The plant itself has long wide bright green leaves and beautiful white and crimson flowers that produce bright red berries. However, the part of galangal that we actually eat is the root.
The root ranges in color from white and yellow to pink and reds. It has a thick woody skin and the edible flesh is typically a much lighter color of the root.
Galangal isn’t especially mainstream as far as herbs and spices go, but it does have an incredible number of health benefits so it’s worth giving it a try. It’s most commonly used in Thai and Indian dishes as a potent and fragrant additive to spice up curry and fish dishes. Galangal can also be used in tasty therapeutic teas, which are wonderfully soothing and warming.
Health Benefits of Galangal
Galangal is an amazing root vegetable that’s not only aromatic but also chock full of healthy goodness.
It’s slowly starting to grow in popularity, and rightly so. There have been studies on the spice in all its different uses and benefits can be seen whether it’s tested raw, powdered or as an oil.
Galangal is a natural stimulant that can greatly reduce nausea caused by vertigo, motion sickness, pregnancy, the flu and other sicknesses. It has anti-inflammatory properties which can help to alleviate the symptoms for most chronic diseases, but it’s especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis.
Galangal can also be used to calm the stomach, relieving gut aches and even reducing gas. Many people even use it as an all-natural deodorizer because it absorbs and changes the scent of human body odor.
This little root is full of antioxidants that support whole-body detoxification, cleaning your blood and organs of harmful environmental toxins and unhealthy food choices. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, making it an effective way to prevent food born illnesses like staphylococci, E. coli, listeria and salmonella.
Research and trials have shown that this magical root can also improve hair growth and treats scalp issues like dryness and flaking and help with skin conditions like acne, minor burns, and small wounds.
It’s even been suggested that adding galangal to a man’s diet can help with fertility, raising sperm count and motility. Some studies have even shown galangal to fight some types of cancer, reducing the need for extensive and debilitating treatments.
Now that you know what it can do for you, let’s discuss how you can keep it as fresh as possible.
How to Freeze Galangal
You could simply throw your extra galangal root into the freezer haphazardly, a few extra steps can ensure maximum freshness so are well worth the little added effort.
The most important thing when preparing to freeze your galangal is not to take the peel off. Leaving it with its skin intact will preserve all the flavor and health benefits.
Wash the roots thoroughly in clean, fresh, cool water. You can do this in a bowl or bucket by gently rubbing the dirt, debris and any tiny bugs that may have stowed away on your galangal.
Alternately, place the galangal in a colander or strainer and just hold it under the running water, rotating the pieces until you’re confident that they’re nice and clean. Drain the water of the galangal and very gently pat dry. Take care not to accidentally rub off the outer layers.
Freezing Galangal in Portion Sizes
Slice up the galangal into single-use portions. Be mindful of all the dishes you may want to use galangal as an ingredient in for the future. You might want to freeze different portion sizes for meals for just yourself, main courses for your whole family, or just enough for a comforting cup of tea.
Grating the galangal before you freeze it is also a great way to go. Simply grate and then portion out using plastic wrap, freezer bags or airtight containers.
If you’re in a rush and just toss all of the galangal pieces into one large container or bag, be prepared for them to all stick together once they are frozen, causing you to fight with it to get the piece you need.
Instead, you’ll want to store each galangal portion individually to prevent future struggles and having to unnecessarily thaw more that you need. As an added bonus, frozen galangal will be less prone to freezer burn and crystals when individually wrapped in quality plastic wrap.
The easiest and best way to do this is to use an ice cube tray to separate your portion sizes until they’re completely frozen, and then wrap each piece in high-quality plastic wrap. You can also use separate freezing containers or freezer-safe Ziploc bags if you’ve got small ones.
For the simplicity of finding the portion size you need later, it’s a good idea to label your containers. Place the containers as far away from the door as possible to avoid temperature fluctuations.
Galangal prepared this way and frozen in the proper storage containers or bags will last three to nine months. While you’re labeling portion sizes, add the current and best before dates as well.
How to Thaw Galangal from Frozen
As with most produce, whether it be vegetable, fruit, or berries, when you thaw from frozen the food item will lose some of its firmness. The same is true for root vegetables and spices.
When you remove your galangal from the freezer it should take less than twenty minutes to fully thaw.
When you first take the galangal out of the freezer it will be very rigid, this is the best time to grate it if that’s how you need it for the dish preparing. If you took out a piece that was too large for what you need right away, you can grate what you need and then pop the rest of the frozen galangal right back into the freezer.
After the galangal has sat on the counter at room temperature for five to ten minutes it will be at the perfect consistency to peel. Instead of using a sharp knife to remove the skin from the galangal, you can easily and safely peel the root with less waste by using a spoon.
You can also put your sealed, frozen galangal in a bowl of room temperature water to speed up the defrosting process.
When it’s fully thawed, it may appear soft, mushy or even slimy, but don’t worry, it’s still 100 percent safe to consume. Nearly all produce will wilt and seem to go bad instantly. This happens because the moisture in the food has frozen and changed how the molecules behave.
Other Options for Storing Galangal
Fresh galangal can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if stored properly.
You can clean it first to make sure that no dirty bits get into your fridge and it’s ready to use when you need it. Gently rub the skin under cool water and pat dry. To make sure you get the most out of your galangal root, wrap it a clean, damp food cloth and then wrap the whole thing in plastic or place in an airtight bag or container.
If you feel like you’ll use the remaining portion of your galangal within a day or two, you can skip the damp cloth and use plastic wrap or an airtight container. Store at the back of the fridge where the temperature will fluctuate the least.
It is a good idea to date your galangal when you put it in the refrigerator, so you know when its time is up.
How to Use Galangal
Now that you know how to store galangal and how good it is for you, you might be wondering how to incorporate galangal into your daily diet?
Diced or sliced galangal makes an excellent addition to a stir-fry, stew or hearty pasta sauce. Beware, however, because galangal is quite a bit more potent that ginger and other spices, so add carefully to taste.
Grated or sliced galangal is popular in a lot of Asian soups with a coconut milk base. It can be steeped for teas to help with a variety of ailments, like heartburn, gas buildup and even halitosis. You can also make a powerful tincture with alcohol and galangal and taking a few drops before meals to avoid indigestion.
You can even make galangal wine by cooking white wine with the galangal roots, straining it and serving it warm.
Is There a Difference Between Ginger and Galangal?
Galangal and ginger are closely related, but not the same plant. Galangal has a larger root than ginger, a stronger taste, and a more robust fragrance.
Other roots include things like maca, which is primarily consumed in powder form. If you’re curious about using maca powder, you can check out our article here.
Are Turmeric and Galangal the Same Thing?
Galangal and Turmeric are both rhizomes, or roots, and they both have distinct flavors and many health benefits, but they’re not the same plant.
Turmeric is mainly used in its powdered form in curry dishes and has a very distinct yellow color that is used to add dye all sorts of things from delicious food to fabrics and even cosmetics.
What Does Tom Kha Mean?
Tom Kha means a broth or soup that has galangal as the main ingredient. Kha means galangal. Tom Kha Gai is a delicious soup made with chicken, galangal and a coconut milk base. An assortment of different in-season vegetables is added to make it a meal in a bowl.