Cool Tip: Fresh Ginger at Your Fingertips

Fresh ginger is one of those great flavor enhancers that can make almost any dish really “pop”. There is nothing that can substitute for the taste of fresh ginger. Ginger also is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it calms queasy tummies and boosts immune system. In short, it’s pretty much a miracle plant!

But ginger isn’t the easiest root to deal with: it’s irregularly shaped, all knobby and just a little awkward to handle, and stringy underneath the outer layer. So once you decide that ginger is a key ingredient in your cooking, your next decision is … how do you deal with it?

Often a dish will call for just a teaspoon of fresh ginger, and you may even bypass that dish because you don’t want to go to all that trouble for just one teaspoon of ginger (I know: we’ve done that in the past!) But here’s a Cool Tip to let you add a little bit of ginger to any and all dishes you want, with a little pre-planning and a minimal amount of effort.

Buy a bunch of fresh ginger root pieces (quantity is not important, but it takes very little effort to do more: especially when you find ginger on sale or at a really good price). Have several zip-top bags ready (always a good idea to use a permanent marker to mark the bags with the date and labeled with something like “ginger puree” or “ginger gold” if you’re dramatic!) Here’s what you do, once you’re organized:
  1. Wash all your ginger pieces under running water.
  2. Cut off the really ugly short knobby parts, but you don’t have to peel the whole piece.
  3. Slice each piece of ginger crosswise into 1/4-1/2” slices (precision is not required here: you just want to cut the fibers that run the length of the ginger root).
  4. Toss all the slices into a blender, with enough water to cover approximately ¼ of the ginger.
  5. Process the ginger slices and water in the blender, adding a little more water at a time, as needed to reduce the whole mixture to a smooth puree.
  6. Divide the ginger puree among the bags, lay the bags on their sides and flatten them as much as possible: you want to have about a ¼”/0.6cm thick layer of puree in each bag. Press firmly but gently to release as much air as possible from the bags and then seal them.
  7. Pop the bags in the freezer on their sides on a small baking/”hotel” sheet so that they maintain that thin layer of ginger puree.
  8. Let freeze until solid and then restack if desired.
Now, whenever you want to add a little ginger in a recipe, take one of the bags out of the freezer, rap it on the edge of your sink or kitchen counter, then open it and extract a piece that looks to be about the right size (you never need to be that precise with ginger measurements!). And, as they say in Canada, “Bob’s your uncle!”