How To: Work with Fresh Ginger

CATEGORIES: How To..., Sara

Both Kate and I love fresh ginger and use it often in our cooking. It adds a flavor and dimension you just can’t get from anything else. I know many of you have just never worked with it before and therefore may not know what to do with it. That will end today. No more excuses! Now in most cases, a dried herb or spice can be easily exchanged in a recipe for its fresh counterpart, but ginger is an exception to that rule. Well, I shouldn’t say that. You could totally put powdered ginger in a recipe that calls for fresh, but you really won’t get the same result. I will tell you right now to never ever use powdered ginger in any recipe I post that calls for fresh! Here are some answers to the most common questions I get asked about this mysterious lumpy root.


Ginger is a funny looking root (well actually it is a rhizome, but that’s the technical horticulturist in me talking and chances are no one cares since it’s called ginger “root”) It looks like this:

Where do I find it?

It can be found in most all major grocery stores.It is usually found against the wall in the produce section, often by the Asian ingredients you can buy in bulk.Don’t be afraid of the price.It is usually labeled by the pound for some ridiculously high number.It’s light as a feather, so you won’t be spending much at all.

How do I pick a good one?

There will be all different shapes and sizes.You want to look for one that is firm, with light brown skin.Avoid any that have really dark or wet spots or look dried out.To get the freshest piece, I always break off a knob off a larger piece.(And yes, that’s totally allowed!)It snaps off easily.If you buy a piece that has previously been snapped off, it will be dry on the open end and you don’t want that.

How do I peel it?

To work with it, you’ll need to peel off the skin.It’s very thin and comes off easily with the right technique.The easiest way to do it is with a regular ol’ spoon.Hold the ginger in your non-dominant hand and run the tip of a spoon down the side and you’ll see the skin peels right off, even around the knobs.

And if you’re thinking, oh my, Sara has some nice man-hands, relax, those are my man’s hands (thanks honey!)

What do I do with it?

When you are left with a peeled piece, you can either mince it up with a sharp knife into small pieces, or what I do is use a cheese grater or a microplane if I need it incredibly fine.I love the flavor of ginger, but I don’t need to be biting into a huge chunk so I like to grate it fine.

How do I store it if I have extra?

One of the best tips to know about ginger is that it freezes well, so when you’re done and have left-overs, just pop it in a ziplock bag and toss it in the freezer.When you are ready to use it again, just grate it frozen with a cheese grater.It actually is much easier to grate when it’s frozen.

What should I use it for?

You’ll see fresh ginger pop up in many of our Asian, Polynesian, and Thai dishes.It’s often used in marinades, sauces, and salad dressings.It’s also great minced fine and added to things like fried rice and stir fry dishes.

Some Recipes to try with fresh Ginger:

Cashew Sweet and Sour Pork

Lemon Ginger Potstickers

Asian BBQ Chicken

Sweet and Savory Flank Steak

Thai Peanut Noodles

Sweet and Spicy Honey Grilled Shrimp

Steak and Mango Salad

Teriyaki Sauce

Babyback Ribs



  1. Thanks for the post! What are your thoughts on ginger/garlic/etc in a paste and sold in those little plastic tubes? I feel like they’re pretty user friendly, and last a long time in the fridge. Have you worked with them? Thanks!

    1. Ya, those aren’t a bad option. Still not exactly the same as fresh, but I actually usually keep jarred garlic and ginger in my fridge for those times that I’m out of fresh (or just feeling lazy!) because they do last a long time.

  2. I stumbled across your blog page and I love it. Crazy enough, I was just wondering how the heck I get the skin off the ginger and how to cut it properly. Now I know. Thanks for posting!!

  3. Good job Dawn! Hey, do you remember when you had your baby and P and I brought you dinner? The sweet and sour chicken I made is the Pork recipe Kate just posted, only I used chicken and bell peppers instead of pork and snap peas. Also I’m showing you how to do the pot-stickers on Friday! So you can totally relive that special time in your life 😉

  4. I can’t believe I actually bought a ginger root. I’ve never even seen one before. I’m really broadening my horizons here thanks to you guys.

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