Ginger is a popular spice used in numerous cuisines around the world. The underground part of ginger or rhizome is what is commonly used worldwide.
The zesty but sweet flavor it imparts on dishes and drinks has made ginger an everyday item in households. It is also a highly nutritious spice.
Ginger has been used for centuries as an effective pain reliever. Its main component is the gingerol, which is responsible for the numerous medicinal properties associated with ginger.
Some of the common known benefits of ginger include:
- Anti-inflammatory agent.
- Relieves nausea and morning sickness in expectant women.
- Pain and joint ache reliever. Ginger is highly effective in relieving headaches, menstrual pain as well as muscle aches. A common ancient painkiller trick is to pour a few drops of fresh ginger juice inside your nostrils. This will alleviate pain.
- Relieve constipation. Drinking a warm cup of ginger water or tea before bedtime or early in the morning is beneficial to the digestion process.
How Long Does Ginger Last?
In the Pantry
For short-term storage, ginger can keep well in the pantry or at room temperature for up to 1 week. This mostly depends on how fresh it was when you bought it. Place it in a cool, dry location. Only wash when ready to use as moisture hastens rotting.
You can extend the shelf life of ginger by storing in the vegetable drawer. Store ginger when unpeeled to prevent it from drying out.
Use Ziploc bags or seal-able wrappers and squeeze out any air. This prevents the air from settling on the ginger as moisture and causing spoilage. Well refrigerated ginger can keep well for 1 month.
For long-term storage, consider freezing. Wrap the ginger tightly to keep off air.
Frozen ginger can keep well for up to 3 months.
In case you have some peeled ginger, crash them into a paste. The paste can keep well in the freezer by mixing it with salt concentration. It should also last about 3 months.
The term crystallized ginger can sound technical, but it is an easy item to prepare within the comfort of your home. You will also enjoy the zesty sweet ginger rocks all year round.
Crystallized ginger is wonderful as a snack, you can use it for baking or in hot tea. The ingredients for making crystallized ginger are readily available in your pantry. They are sugar, honey and the ginger itself.
A simple procedure involves the following:
Peel neatly. To make peeling easier, freeze it overnight.
Boil the ginger until soft. A knife should easily penetrate through. Let it cool before chopping into small chunks. Do not discard the boiling water.
Divide your sugar into 3 or 4 equal amounts. Those are the number of times you will add the sugar.
Return the chunks and continue simmering it while adding sugar. Allow the mixture to cool after each addition of sugar. By now the mixture should have become thick and gel-like.
Lastly, add the honey or maple syrup, boil until you get a thick mixture. Pour into seal-able jars and seal tightly.
Crystallized chunks can keep well for a few years, at most 3.
A common method used to extend the shelf life of items is pickling.
Pickled vegetables are common in Asian countries like Japan and China.
In Japan, it is used when eating sushi as it is considered to cleanse the palate for optimal flavor tasting.
Pickling can be done on its own or add spices like red chili. When pickling, use peeled whole or sliced roots.
It is advisable to soak the roots first in salty water for a few hours. This allows the pickling concentrate to penetrate better.
Vinegar and sugar are normally used for pickling. Boil the two first until it sugar and vinegar taste dissolves. Pour the hot mixture over the slices and seal tightly. Give it a few days to process before using.
Pickled ginger is best stored in the refrigerator and can last for 3 months.
Dehydrate and Grind into Powder
Extracting moisture from food items is a wonderful way of prolonging their shelf life. You can easily do this at home.
You can use a dehydrator, natural sunlight or even an oven. Dehydrating outside in the sun can take roughly five days, whereas using appliances will only take you several hours.
For better results, slice the root to ensure all parts are evenly dried out.
You can stop at the dried slices and store them in airtight containers.
Alternatively, you can turn the dried slices into powder by using a coffee grinder. Ensure the slices are ground completely into a fine powder.
Store the powder in a cool, dry area. It will keep well for close to 3 years.
Preserve in Alcohol
Storing ginger in alcohol works well for peeled roots. The most preferred alcohol is vodka or sherry.
Submerge the slices in seal-able jars.
This method will preserve the ginger for several months.
Another similar technique to pickling. The only difference is that you use salt instead of vinegar.
Slice the roots into thin slices and arrange into mason jars. Fill the jars with water and add a tablespoon of salt.
Seal the jars and leave in room temperature for a few days.
Use it in drinks or savory dishes.
Use in Chutney
Another unique way you can extend the shelf life is to prepare chutney.
Chutney is common in Indian cuisines and is prepared by reducing fruits, spices, herbs, liquids and vegetables into a thick concentrate. It is used in sauces or as a dip.
This chutney has a mixture of other ingredients, but the amount of ginger used is more. It can keep well for a few months since other ingredients may expire faster than the ginger.
Ginger Essential Oil
Essential oils are all the rage across the globe. Highly popular for aromatherapy, hair & beauty, Ayurveda as well as in massaging, many people are slowly embracing essential oils into their everyday regimen.
Ginger oil is among the many common oils. Extracting the oil may require you to add another ready-made oil, such as olive oil.
Finely grate the ginger and mix it with the oil. Allow it to sit for a few hours before straining in a muslin cloth.
Store in heavy duty container which will not let in sunlight. This oil will last you for a whopping 6 months.
How to Identify Spoilage in Ginger
- Discolouration – Once you notice some grayish hue on the edges, expiration has set in. you can cut off the discolored bits and use the rest immediately.
- Becomes soggy – Fresh root is firm and potent. Once it becomes soggy and slimy, it is better to discard it to prevent food borne illnesses.
- Visible mold – The presence of mold is a sign of decay. Ensure dryness since moisture is a breeding ground for mold. Discard any moldy roots..
This highly versatile spice blends well with most food items. Enjoy its medicinal value, nutritional value and other benefits by learning how best to store it to prolong its shelf life.