Ginger is an amazing spice. It has just the right kick of bright flavor that brings a healthy boost to any dish. Fresh ginger has a more intense flavor than the ground ginger that you buy in the spice’s section of your grocery store.
Using fresh ginger can be tricky sometimes. How do you know if your ginger is fresh? What if it has gone bad? How do you store it?
Ginger is great, as long as you keep it fresh.
There are many ways to do that, from popping it in the fridge to chopping it up and putting it in some alcohol or vinegar. In any case, properly stored and refrigerated fresh ginger products should be used within a year.
Ginger Shelf Life
Different kinds of ginger have different shelf life spans. Here’s the life of some commonly used forms of fresh ginger, stored at room temperature.
- Fresh ginger – one week
- Jarred ginger ** – two to three months
- Whole ginger root – one week
- Ginger root pieces – one week
- Grated ginger ** – one week
- Minced ginger ** – one week
- Ginger paste ** – one month
** – must be refrigerated
Unopened ginger products can last for quite some time. As always, check the manufacturer’s date on the package before consuming. If there isn’t a manufacturer’s date to use, then go by the purchase date.
As with other foods, opened ginger products won’t last as long. If an opened ginger product has been properly stored in the refrigerator, it is probably okay to use up until the given date. If no date is given, use one year as a benchmark for freshness.
Ginger does much better in the refrigerator than in the pantry. For example, a fresh piece of ginger root will last about a week at room temperature before it begins to get moldy and soggy. When placed in the refrigerator, the same piece of ginger could last up to three months before it spoils.
It is also worth remembering that larger pieces of ginger have longer shelf lives.
Chopped ginger lasts only a few days, whereas a whole ginger chunk lasts a few months. This is because chopped, grated, and minced ginger dries out faster, losing flavor and firmness.
It’s also more susceptible to molding because of the increase in exposed surface.
How To Tell If Ginger Is Bad
It’s quite easy to tell good ginger from bad ginger. Fresh ginger will have a healthy, yet gnarled look about it. The skin and flesh will be firm. The flesh will be bright yellow and have a spicy aroma and very spicy taste.
On its way to spoiling, ginger will begin to lose its color and firmness. If the skin of the ginger is slightly wrinkled but the flavor still seems okay, the ginger is okay to use.
The ginger is not okay to use when it totally loses its color and flavor. Bad ginger has a grayish flesh. It’s also soggy and wrinkly looking. Mold, an indication of spoilage, may or may not be present once ginger spoils.
Is Moldy Ginger Safe To Eat?
The answer to this question depends on your courage when it comes to eating moldy foods. Many chefs have a zero mold policy, where all moldy foods are tossed out, no questions asked.
Some chefs, however, are willing to cut away the mold to try and salvage the rest of the ingredient.
It’s perfectly fine to cut mold off ginger and use the rest if the mold is only in one small area. If you cut the moldy section away and the rest of the ginger looks and tastes fresh, then you are good to go.
If you are in doubt, just don’t eat the ginger. Really rotten ginger can produce small amounts of safrole, a known toxin and carcinogen, so it’s best to just get a fresh piece.
How To Store Ginger
Storing ginger makes a big difference in its shelf life, but this can be a point of confusion for many at-home chefs.
When you buy ginger at your local grocer, it’s usually not refrigerated, so does that mean you should keep it out or stick it in the fridge when you get home? It depends on how fast you’re going to use it. If you’ll use it immediately, keep it out. Otherwise, refrigerate or freeze it.
An alternative way to store ginger is to submerge it in an alcohol or acid of some kind. Common choices include vodka, sherry, rice vinegar, distilled vinegar, or other clear spirits. This might seem a bit unorthodox, but it keeps the ginger fresh for a very long time.
When stored this way, ginger could last several months in the refrigerator while keeping its original flavor.
To use this method, just find a small, sealable jar and place the ginger into it. Pour in enough of the spirits or acids to cover the piece of ginger. Replace the lid tightly and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Before using ginger preserved this way, make sure to rinse it well and pat dry so that you don’t get the flavors of the preserving liquids in your recipe.
How Long Does Ginger Last In The Fridge?
Ginger loves the refrigerator. Keeping it dry and cool keeps it fresh for much longer.
Ginger lasts up to three months in the fridge when kept in a zip-lock plastic bag. Make sure all the air is squeezed out, then put it in the vegetable crisper where it gets good airflow. If your ginger is peeled, you can store it the same way, but it may not last as long.
As with any fruit or vegetable, if you already chopped or prepared it in any way, you should definitely store it in the fridge, where it will stay fresh for up to a week.
Can You Freeze Ginger?
If you want to take it a step further, you can even freeze ginger. When frozen, it can last up to six months.
Since ginger will get soggy when it is thawed, it’s best to preserve frozen ginger for smoothies or dishes that will be cooked through. All you have to do is grate fresh ginger root, separate it into teaspoon sized portions, and freeze!
You can use a baking sheet or an ice cube tray to help freeze it in the smaller portions.