Fresh ginger is readily available and easy to use. It is much milder than dried ginger and the two should be only warily substituted for each other. When purchasing, look for smooth, non-moldy or withered pieces. I prefer to get larger pieces, with big “fingers” because they are easier to peel. Even though you may only need a little bit, go ahead and get the larger piece; you can keep any extras in the freezer for the next time (see below).
The first thing to do is to peel the root. You can either use a vegetable peeler or, if you have advanced knife skills, a small paring knife. Just like peeling a carrot, slide the peeler down the root releasing the skin. You can also use the peeler on the nubby ends.
You will not be able to use the peeler on the inside of the “fingers,” so carefully take a paring knife and trim the hard to reach pieces.
Different recipes will call for different ways to use the ginger root. You can slice it , grate it or use it whole. It is a very fibrous root, so it is best shaved down into tiny bits if it will not be removed from the dish before ingesting. I usually use a microplane and grate the ginger root.
Peeled ginger will last in the refrigerator only a couple of days. Have no fear though…I have a magic trick! You can store peeled (*take special note on that word PEELED) ginger in the freezer for around 6 months or so. Peel the ginger (did I mention you need to PEEL it enough yet???) and stick it in a freezer bag until you are ready to use. To defrost, just sit out at room temperature or stick in the microwave for short time (a minute or less). Enjoy!
Want a delicious experiment? Try my Zesty Orange & Ginger Cranberry Relish!