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Never waste a knob of fresh ginger again
And another use for a beloved kitchen tool.
Last week marked the 51st official celebration of Earth Day. Say what you will about the way corporations have coopted the holiday and governments have failed to enact policy for meaningful change (very real concerns!), but for me, there’s also undeniable value taking a couple days out of my year to consider my own impact on the big orbiting rock I get to call home. A quick acknowledgement here: having the bandwidth to ponder environmentalism is a privilege I don’t take lightly. Take a peek at this list of environmental justice resources to learn more.
As a person who cooks a lot, focusing on reducing food waste is a natural and impactful area for my environmental focus. A few habits have significantly curbed the waste coming out of my kitchen (composting, keeping inventory lists, and meal planning have all helped a lot) but even with those measures, there are still problem items I have trouble putting to use—the leftover sauces in those miniature plastic containers from my weekend takeout habit are the bane of my existence. And until fairly recently, it was not at all uncommon that I’d purchase a large piece of ginger root, use an inch of it for a recipe, toss it in my crisper drawer, and pull it out a couple weeks later only to find it completely covered in mold. That was until I realized you can…
Freeze your ginger and use a microplane to grate it fresh out of the freezer.
I’m a longtime fan of a microplane. If you’re unfamiliar with the tool, picture a long, skinny cheese grater with an extremely fine grating mechanism and an ergonomic handle (or bypass my clunky description and click this [affiliate—thanks for the support!] link to take a look.) I use mine to zest citrus. It’s also my preferred tool for creating a gorgeous cloud-like pile parmesan cheese. And if a recipe calls for freshly grated nutmeg (~*fancy*~), the microplane is your best bet. It’s also integral to today’s tip for eternally fresh ginger…
Freeze your ginger root. I pop mine directly into the freezer with its skin in tact. Feel free to store it loose like I do, or in a sealed container or zippered plastic/silicon bag.
I don’t mind a little bit of the brown papery ginger skin in my food—I don’t find it impacts the taste at all and eating it is a good way to further reduce waste. But if you prefer, use a veggie peeler or a sharp paring knife to remove the skin before freezing.
When you’re ready to put your ginger to use, pull it out of the freezer, firmly grip it an inch-or-two above where you plan to grate to, press it against the teeth of your microplane and run it back and forth quickly to grate it. Don’t let the ginger thaw at all—it must remain completely frozen for the sharp, fine teeth of the microplane to yield a pile of ginger snow that you can use in your recipe just as you would finely minced fresh ginger. And be careful while you do this! My knuckles have had a few-too-many close encounters with my microplane.
Most recipes will provide a ginger measurement in a standard measurement (teaspoons or tablespoons) and length (inches in the US). I like to eyeball the length mentioned and grate the amount recommended. If no length was provided, I grate, then measure into the appropriate spoon.
That’s it. The ginger will keep in the freezer for as long as you feel comfortable keeping any other produce item in there. I fall into the eternity camp. (Let’s be honest, we all have that bag of frozen spinach that’s been hanging out for years in there—I’m not ashamed and I’ll definitely put mine to use…someday…)
This week, I’d love to hear how you put fresh ginger to use in your kitchen. I love it in curries, soups, and marinades like the one for the Teriyaki Tempeh from The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep. Dinner last night was a loose riff on this recipe. I rarely use it in sweet applications, so if you have any recommendations for a baked good that incorporates fresh ginger, I’m all ears.
With love and a *tip* of my chef’s hat,