Ginger has a long history of being used as a natural remedy for just about anything that ails you. It’s especially useful in the kitchen for its culinary prowess and nutritional benefits. We love that fresh ginger is inexpensive and an easily sourced plant root.
So how do you use fresh ginger? Fresh ginger is easiest to use when it’s grated, sliced, minced, or mashed into a paste. Fresh ginger is most commonly used to reduce bitter flavors, temper or intensify other flavors, and to cleanse the palate. You can also make fresh ginger tea by boiling water and pouring it over fresh slices of ginger with some honey.
This ultimate guide will look at some of the many ways to use fresh ginger for total wellness that tastes great.
The Ultimate Guide to Using Fresh Ginger
Ginger is a lovely little flowering plant that is in the same family as a few other powerful spices, such as galangal and cardamom. The part of the plant that you consume is the root, or rhizome, where the majority of the medicinal properties are found.
Fresh ginger looks like a gnarled root, not unlike the intricate roots of a bonsai plant, if you’ve ever seen one of those. Healthy, fresh ginger will have a slightly shiny, light beige, thin, and almost papery skin. The more mature the root, the thicker and more fibrous the skin will be.
The inner flesh of most common ginger has a light-yellow hue and a potent, bright, and almost citrusy scent. Depending on your source, you may also find yourself with ginger that has a pinkish tint or is almost white in color.
When you’re choosing your ginger, look for roots that are relatively smooth, rather than old and wrinkled, and choose heavier roots over lighter pieces, as this is a sign of higher nutritional value.
Fresh ginger packs a hearty flavor punch, with a uniquely spicy flavor. It may take some time to get used to if you’re new to this space, but it’s well worth adapting your tastebuds, as you’ll see if you keep reading.
How to Use Fresh Ginger
Fresh ginger can be used in a myriad of different applications, but there are a few simple and popular ways to prepare it for use in your recipes.
These are the 3 best ways to use fresh ginger:
- Use Fresh Ginger to Reduce Bitter Flavors – One of the great secrets to ginger is that it helps to reduce bitter flavors in your food and drink. Bitterness is a sign of important nutrition, but many people are turned off by the flavor and therefore avoid bitter foods and drinks.
- Use Fresh Ginger to Temper Other Flavors – Ginger is a great way to temper the flavor, similar to how salt intensifies sweetness and citrus will liven up creamy dishes.
- Use Fresh Ginger as a Palate Cleanser – Ginger is also a fantastic palate cleanser, so if you’re enjoying or serving multiple courses that don’t necessarily complement each other, or if you ever find yourself with a bad taste in your mouth, a small piece of fresh ginger will help cleanse your mouth of any remaining flavors and even bacteria.
Here are some top tips and techniques for peeling and chopping fresh ginger so it’s ready to use.
How to Peel Fresh Ginger
Fresh ginger is surprisingly easy to peel, especially if you have a young root.
Quite often you can simply scrape the papery peeling off with a spoon, but if your root is slightly more mature, you can use a paring knife instead.
Peel only as much as you’ll need immediately in order to keep the rest of your root as protected from air exposure as possible.
How to Slice Fresh Ginger
Using a sharp chef’s knife, create thin slices of ginger by slicing the root perpendicular to the fibers (against the grain), which will make the slices less stringy in your recipe, though it does require a good knife to slice cleanly through the root.
How to Mince Fresh Ginger
Once you have thin slices of ginger, simply slice them again in the opposite direction to create chopped or minced ginger.
Continue to chop into pieces as small as necessary to suit each individual recipe you work with.
How to Grate Fresh Ginger
Peel only the portion of your ginger root that you want to grate, and leave the rest of the peeling on the root to use hold onto as you grate your ginger.
The smaller the grated edge the more effective job you’ll make of your ginger, so use a Microplane designed for zesting citrus (this is our favorite Microplane).
Cooking with Fresh Ginger
Ginger packs a lot of versatile flavor into a small number of fresh ingredients, and it can really bring life to a sweet or savory dish.
You’ll often see ginger in baked goods, such as the ever-popular gingerbread cookie or cakes with ginger spice and molasses.
It is just as tasty in savory dishes, such as ginger chicken or stir-fried with ginger and garlic. Its often used to balance out and improve the flavor of spicy dishes or sauces as well.
If you’ve ever had sushi, you’ve undoubtedly even seen the pink pickled ginger garnish that adds the perfect edge to nearly any piece of sashimi or sushi roll.
Drinking Fresh Ginger
Grating or juicing ginger to add to a hot or cold beverage is a delicious way to add fresh ginger to your daily routine.
Consider brewing up some simple tea, adding it to your favorite juice or smoothie, or even adding a little spice to an evening cocktail.
You can drink ginger on its own, simply watered down with, well, water, or you can pair it with some combinations of flavors that taste fantastic together.
Here are the best combinations with fresh ginger:
- Lemon & Honey
- Cinnamon and hot cocoa
- Carrot, orange, apple or pear juice
- Green Tea
Fresh Ginger Health Benefits
Most of the benefits of fresh ginger stem from its powerful ability to reduce inflammation and provide a wide variety of useful antioxidants (much like turmeric root).
Together, these benefits can help reduce the symptoms and severity of almost every major disease, not to mention act as a useful preventative measure to keep you healthy in the first place.
Let’s take a look at some of the more specific benefits of fresh ginger.
Fresh Ginger Nutrition Facts
When you think about nutrition, vitamins are often the first thing that comes to mind. Ginger has many of them.
- Vitamin A is noteworthy for its protection of your eyes, skin, and hair and it’s commonly used in cosmetics and hygiene products for this reason.
- Vitamin C – Most people are also familiar with Vitamin C, which supports your immune system function, among other good deeds.
- Vitamin B – Perhaps most beneficial, however, are the B Vitamins found in fresh ginger. It’s not that this family of vitamins is any more important than A or C, but they’re more difficult to find, so all the more precious.
- Minerals – Ginger is a source of many minerals as well, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Each of these minerals plays an important part in keeping you hydrated, with healthy blood, great energy levels and smoothly operating metabolic system.
- Amino Acids – Ginger also contains all 9 essential amino acids as well as arginine, which is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning your body produces only small quantities but needs additional resources if you’re under stress or coping with an illness. Essential amino acids are necessary for your overall health and well-being, but your body doesn’t naturally synthesize them, so we have to take them in through our diet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ginger
Do you have to peel fresh ginger?
Depending on how you’re using the ginger, peeling it is mainly for texture’s sake. If you’re not going to be directly eating it, such as steeping it in tea, or if you’re going to be grating it quite small, you can leave the peel on, especially if it’s young ginger with a thin skin.
The older the ginger root is, the tougher the skin will be and the more likely you are to want to peel it.
How do you store fresh ginger root?
Fresh ginger storage is quite simple. If you’d like to keep it ready and accessible for consistent immediate use, simply wrap the roots in a paper towel and place them in a sealed Ziploc bag or airtight Tupperware container. They’ll stay fresh in your fridge for 3 weeks to a month.
Can you freeze ginger? Yes, fresh ginger can be frozen. It will stay fresh frozen for up to 6 months, and it thaws very quickly and easily, so this is a great way to keep your root fresh for the longest possible time period while still being fairly quick to use when needed.
What is a good substitute for fresh ginger?
Ginger has a very signature flavor, and there is no real comparable substitute, however, if you don’t like the taste of ginger, you can try the following substitutes:
- In Baked Goods: substitute equal amounts of allspice, mace, cinnamon or nutmeg
- In Cooking: substitute with turmeric, black pepper with nutmeg, cardamom, or citrus zest according to taste
If you absolutely can’t stand the flavor of ginger but still want to enjoy the many benefits incorporating it into your day brings you, you can find ginger capsules that provide you with an easy to swallow pill full of ground ginger.
As always, opt for organic whenever possible when it comes to nutritional supplements to get the most health bang for your buck.
Can you substitute ground ginger for fresh ginger?
Yes, though the flavor won’t be exact. Fresh ginger is spicier and more commonly used in cooking savory dishes or making beverages out of.
Ground ginger is a softer flavor more commonly used in baking. If your recipe calls for fresh ginger but all you have is ground, you can substitute using the formula of 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger is equal to about ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger.
This will also work in the reverse, if necessary, and your recipe calls for ground ginger but all you have is the fresh root.