Ginger has a spicy, zesty taste with a sweetly warm fragrance. Once peeled and grated, it can easily be thrown into various sauces, glazes, and marinades to brighten up the dish.
What is Ginger?
Ginger is the root or rhizome of Zingiber officinale, a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. Fresh ginger root is typically light brown on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. It is one of the most widely known spices in the world and is grown in nearly every country with a warm climate, heavy rainfall, and plenty of sunshine.
What Does Ginger Taste Like?
It is hot, zesty, and biting yet sweet and warm. Ginger is quite pungent and spicy with black pepper and citrus notes as well as earthy and floral flavors. These aspects are muted, leaving a lingering essence on the palate.
How to Choose
Try purchasing fresh or frozen ginger as these forms retain the best flavors. Choose ginger that is firm to the touch, smooth, and relatively free of blemishes. Wrinkly skin would indicate it has been sitting there for too long.
How to Store
If you are going to use a knob of ginger later today or tomorrow, the uncut and unpeeled root can sit out on the counter for a day or so. Or you can store it in the fridge with skin on in a plastic bag or airtight container. It can last up to three weeks, provided it has not been exposed to air and moisture. Make sure to keep it dry as possible, not damp or wet. If you find molds or rotten parts, just cut them and keep the remainder.
For longest storage, wrap the whole knob in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use it in a recipe, simply chop or grate it until you have the desired amount.
Ginger powder is convenient, but it lacks the intense aroma and flavor of fresh, so only use it if the recipe really says to use the powder. Store it in a cool, dark cupboard, away from direct heat or sunlight and it will generally stay at best quality for about 3 to 4 years.
How to Prepare
Fresh ginger is usually added to food either in slices, thin strips, crushed, or grated. Before you use it, peel the skin with a spoon, knife, or peeler. The reason to peel ginger is that the skin is a little tougher than the flesh, so it is no fun to eat.