With its peppery, intense taste, fresh ginger is best when you grate it into very small bits. Any type of kitchen grater works for ginger, with some doing the job more effectively than others.
When buying fresh ginger, look for pieces that are plump and firm rather than shriveled and dried. Choose pieces without any discolored or moldy spots.
Store fresh ginger root, either whole or cut into pieces, in plastic or in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to three weeks. Grated ginger stays good indefinitely in the freezer. Place teaspoon-sized portions in an ice cube tray and wrap the tray well in plastic. Or, roll the grated ginger into a cylinder, wrap it in plastic and break off small portions from the frozen tube as you need them.
Peel the Ginger
Before grating, cut off a small piece from the ginger root and return the rest of the root to the fridge; a 2-inch piece of ginger gives you about 2 tablespoons of grated ginger. You have two options for peeling:
- Use a sharp paring knife to cut off all the hard skin from the ginger, removing knobby parts as you go.
- Use a metal spoon to scrape off the peel. This method allows you to scrape around any knobs. The procedure takes some practice but allows you to use every bit of the ginger.
Cut off a larger piece of ginger than what you think you'll need for your recipe to make the actual grating go more easily. Discard the extra amount after grating.
Although you can grate ginger with any type of grater, a microplaner or rasp gives you a better product:
- With their ultra sharp, tiny teeth, microplane or rasp graters provide the smallest pieces of ginger. Ginger grated with these graters comes out almost like a paste, similar to the garlic you get from a garlic press. Microplaned ginger infuses your food with ginger flavor without having large chunks of ginger.
- The smaller holes on a washboard or tower grater produce small, uneven chunks of ginger, rather than grated pieces, while the larger holes produce thin, grated pieces. Both sizes of holes work for grating, but they also both add uneven pieces of ginger in your food, overpowering any other flavor when you bite into the small chunk or grated piece of ginger.
Using the Grater
The procedure for grating ginger is the same regardless of the type of grater you use:
- Hold the ginger in one hand with your fingertips and the grater in the other hand.
- Rub the ginger back and forth along the grater.
- Use your fingernails to hold the ginger if you haven't cut a large enough piece to get all the ginger you want.
- Discard any large, errant chunks or the last remains of ginger that you can no longer hold.
- Scrape off the ginger that adheres to the back and front of the grater with the tip of a paring knife or a metal spoon.
Add grated ginger to marinades for beef, fish or poultry, use it to give salsa or chutneys peppery flavor or stir it into fresh fruit for dessert.