Ginger is one of the best all around health and beauty foods. It helps promote detoxification, elevates metabolism and immunity, and is warming without being irritating. It also provides an earthy, fresh flavor to many dishes.
Many of my clients and readers want to incorporate ginger into their daily lives, but have held off on doing so simply because they don’t know quite what to do with it. Just this past week, I happened to chat with a Mexican woman who told me she has no idea how to work with ginger because it wasn’t part of her culture, and a Midwestern mom asked me how to cut or slice ginger as she didn’t know what to do.
So if you are unsure of exactly how to work with ginger (which can sometimes have the overly knarled looking appearance of an out of space create), you are not alone! My goal today is to help you get more comfortable with ginger, so that you can too benefit from its fantastic nutritional and beautifying properties.
How to Pick Your Ginger
You can easily find fresh ginger at your local store, but be sure that you opt for organic over the conventionally marketed variety.
Don’t get intimidated by the sometimes daunting price per pound, as ginger is so light, and a little bit can really go a long way, and last you all week. Sure, the price per pound may look daunting, but it is so very light you will be surprised at how affordable it really is, and the organic varieties are worth it as they are grown in better soil that isn’t soaked in fertilizers and pesticides (as it is a root).
Choose one that feels firm all over with a light brown skin, and a beautiful gingery aroma when held close to the nose. Avoid any that have dark, soft or moist spots (big warning sign for mold!), or those that look particularly dried out, with wrinkled skins. Pick out the nubs that feel fresh, and in their peak. Trust me! Even if you are not a ginger connoisseur, you’ll be able to intuitively tell which is the fresher versus past its peak!
How to Store Ginger
Once home, your fresh ginger should keep quite nicely for 6-8 weeks when stored properly. The best “official” way to store it is to simply place your unpeeled ginger in a zip top bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge, making certain that it is completely dry before storing it.
Personally, I like to buy a fresh nub every single week, as I use it so often and I go food shopping so often, so it’s just part of my routine. Since I just buy a piece of ginger every week around the length of my forefinger, I just mostly leave it in a dry bowl on my kitchen counter sometimes (being honest!), and go through it in a few days. So if you are a member of the fridge police, you can bust me if you want to! :D
*Tip: Ginger freezes very well, so if you have extra, simply pop the bag into the freezer. You can grate frozen ginger right into your next recipe quite easily.
To peel or not to peel – that is the question
Well, it really depends how you are using it. If you are slicing it into a stew for instance, you don’t have to peel it. But if you are grating it into a stir-fry, I would peel it.
With young organic ginger, it is really not necessary to peel it at all, as the skin can impart a slightly spicy flavor. If you are using an older piece of ginger and the skin has begun to dry out, you may prefer to peel it before use.
*Note: If you are not using organic ginger, you must peel, as the chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers will concentrate in the skin.
The best way to peel ginger is to break off the knob you intend to use, and then simply scrape it with a teaspoon. If you use a knife, you’ll use a lot of your precious ginger trying to cut it away!
Unlike a potato, ginger has a thin, soft skin which will come off easily and with minimal waste.
Ginger is very versatile, so you can use it in dozens of dishes!
I personally love ginger for its detox properties, so I frequently use it in tea, simply slicing it thinly, and steeping it in boiling water for a few minutes. My Detox Tea is an amazing way to boost beauty and immunity.
This is wonderful with a squeeze of lemon and perhaps a teaspoon of turmeric for an elevated detoxifying and immune system-boosting effect.
If you get a grater, you can use it for your stir-fries, and if you have a Vitamix or other high powered blender, you can break it down easily in salad dressings and soups.
Great for cold weather, ginger is a warming herb, so you will feel it every bit as much as you taste it. Think of it as a warm, comforting hug for your insides. :)