Ginger root, largely cultivated in Southeast Asia, is used in countless cuisines and cultures both as a spice and for its medicinal qualities. Softening ginger is a sign that it is going bad and should be avoided. Use ginger before it softens for the best flavor in your foods, and practice proper storage to keep your ginger fresher longer.
Ginger Gone Bad
The easiest way to tell if ginger is safe for consumption is to visually examine it. While your eyes are not always able to detect spoilage in foods, with ginger the main spoilage that occurs is mold growth, which is easy to identify visually. Once ginger begins to soften, it also tends to moisten and begin to grow mold. Carefully inspect the ends of each piece of the root for mold before use. Typically the mold on ginger will be a white, green or blueish powdery mold.
Keeping Ginger Fresh
To keep ginger fresh for the longest period of time, store it in the refrigerator unpeeled. Use your refrigerator's crisper drawer, if you have one, and store ginger for up to four weeks unbagged. If you prefer pantry storage, use the ginger within one week, as this is about the time that it takes for the flavorful root to begin to soften at room temperature. Once ginger has softened or has any noticeable signs of spoilage, toss it.
Long-Term Ginger Storage
If you buy a large piece of ginger and cannot use it quickly, freeze it to maintain its freshness. Place the ginger either peeled or unpeeled in a freezer-safe bag and seal. When fresh ginger is needed, simply remove the ginger root from the freezer and dice or grate it as needed. Once you are finished, place the ginger back in the freezer until next time. You can store frozen ginger for up to three months.
Saving Ginger From Spoilage
If you have a large amount of ginger that is on the verge of going bad, you can preserve it for future recipes with a little work. Peel the ginger and finely grate it or blend it until it forms a thick paste. You can add salt to the mixture if you want, but it's not necessary. Spread the paste onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover it with another piece. Freeze the ginger paste until solid, then break it into crumbles and freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for use as needed.
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