Has something ever caught your eye at the store just the right way, that no matter what your meal plan says and no matter what your shopping list says, you buy it anyway?
It happens to all of us at some point in time, and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as you’re following two guidelines:
- You’re sticking to the budget. (Don’t have a grocery budget? Get one here.)
- You’re doing SOMETHING with everything you buy.
Now that “something” doesn’t have to be glamorous. Maybe you’re just going to eat it (i.e. apples). Maybe you’re going to cook it for dinner (i.e. green beans). Or maybe you’re going to use it in various baking projects (i.e. honey).
The problem is when we do something with SOME of it, but not ALL of it. That leads to food waste, which is money waste.
We’ve talked about how to freeze yogurt and how to freeze tomato paste, but I’ve been using a lot of fresh ginger lately and I want to show you how easy it was to freeze fresh ginger!
Fresh ginger may seem like a luxury to some, but it’s actually pretty affordable.
It looks like a knobby root and it doesn’t weigh much. Even if the sign at the grocery store says $2.49/lb (or higher), you can actually get a good size piece for less than a dollar. PLUS most recipes only call for one teaspoon or one tablespoon at a time, which makes it SUPER cheap per recipe.
Some of my favorite recipes – like carrot and sweet potato fritters and egg roll in a bowl and homemade elderberry syrup and Chinese 5 spice chicken and Thai peanut sauce and kung pao chicken – can use ground or fresh ginger interchangeably, and I’ll admit to pulling the lazy card and choosing ground ginger a lot of the time.
BUT, if I remember to put it on my grocery list, fresh ginger makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE and really packs a punch of flavor.
The only downside to fresh ginger, is that we use 1 inch or so and then the rest sits in the fridge until we’re cooking something else that calls for fresh ginger.
Then when we’re ready to make that meal and go to the fridge to pull out that ginger root, it’s all shriveled up and hard and totally not appealing.
Even though fresh ginger root doesn’t cost much, we’re still throwing those pennies in the trash can.
Instead, let’s freeze whatever ginger we have left so we’re NOT wasting our food and money, but we’re also making meals that taste delicious!
How to Freeze Ginger
You’re going to fall into one of two camps with fresh ginger: you’re either going buy some from the store and not know what to do with it, OR already have some at home that you need to do something with.
Both camps end up with frozen ginger, but each one starts with a different preparation method.
Camp #1: You haven’t bought fresh ginger YET.
Whenever you come home from the store, peel ASAP. It’s one of those tasks that seems tedious and always gets pushed to the next day (and then the next, and then the next…) so just eat your frog and get it done and over with.
Then, stick it in the freezer. Why? Because frozen ginger is easier to grate than fresh ginger.
Ginger is very fibrous, and sometimes grating it can be tricky. Sticking it in the freezer first makes it much, MUCH easier to grate.
When the ginger is frozen, grate it. You can use either the teeny tiny holes or the medium holes of a box grater, or even a microplane. It all depends on how small you want it in your recipes (I usually go for the teeny tiny holes personally, and this is the box grater I have.)
Then continue with the general method below.
Camp #2: You already have fresh ginger at home.
If you already have fresh ginger at home, odds are you’ve already peeled it and have some leftover. If you don’t, follow the instructions above in Camp #1.
With your ginger already peeled, you have a choice: freeze it overnight and grate it in the morning, or grate it as-is. Grating frozen is easier, but I don’t want you to put it in the freezer if you’re going to forget that you put it there in the first place!
Once it’s grated, follow the general method(s) below.
I’d love to give you just one general method for freezing, but just like freezing tomato paste, there are several ways to get the same thing done.
Freeze in Ice Cube Trays
I picked up a silicone ice cube tray from ALDI not too long ago, which is very similar to this one. I’m going to make some fancy ice cubes in the near future, but you could use this or a regular ice cube tray to freeze ginger.
Take your ginger and portion either 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon into each ice cube space. Press down with your fingers or spoon so that the ginger is squished together as best as possible. Freeze overnight (or at least 8 hours) and you can pop out the squares and store in a freezer-safe container until you’re ready to use them!
Flash Freeze on Parchment Paper
If you don’t have ice cube trays, line a cookie sheet (I really like these!) with parchment paper and evenly place scoops of either one teaspoon or one tablespoon onto the paper. Leave about 1” of space between the scoops. Place the entire cookie sheet in the freezer overnight, or at least 8 hours. When they’re frozen through, place the frozen ginger rounds into a freezer-safe container.
The Lazy Way to Freeze Ginger
If you’re super short on time (or super lazy), there’s an even easier way to freezer ginger: peel and stick it in the freezer whole!
Remember that frozen ginger grates easily, so whenever you need some for a recipe, pull out the chunk and grate off what you need!
Tips for Freezing Ginger:
I like to freeze in one teaspoon increments because they’ll thaw quicker AND I think it makes it more versatile in recipes later. Three teaspoons equals one tablespoon, FYI.
Fresh ginger will be juicy when you grate it, so you likely won’t have to add any liquid. If your ginger is on the brink of being old, it might be on the dry side. Use the ice cube tray method and add just a little bit of water to get the pieces to freeze together.
Always label your containers! You may know it’s grated ginger today, but odds are you won’t be able to see through the container very well later, so it’s a good habit to label EVERYTHING you put in the freezer.
Save your ginger peels! They make great scrap additions to homemade chicken stock.
If you use ginger slices, you don’t have to grate it! Simple peel and slice and store in the freezer. You can flash freeze between parchment paper if you want to, or you can save the hassle just put it right in a freezer-safe container.
Vegetable peeler, paring knife or spoon – those are your options for peeling ginger. I personally use a combination of a paring knife first (for the small weird spots) and then a vegetable peeler (for the larger, smooth spots) and that works well for me. I’ve heard of using a spoon, but I personally haven’t tried that myself!
Freeze that ginger!
- Peel it (use a vegetable peeler, paring knife, or spoon)
- Grate it (I like using a microplane, but a box grater works too)
- Freeze it (use ice cube trays, a cookie sheet, or just freeze it whole!)
Saving fresh ginger in the fridge is a super simple way to avoid food waste. When you don’t waste food, you don’t waste money!
Thank you Wendy,
I did find over the years that if i start with a piece of Ginger from the grocer I needed to soak it for a few days before putting it in the ground. My pot is next to where the Air conditioner drips so its easy to water. (next to the drip bucket)
Have patience if you start from grocery ginger, it took me several years to get a good crop, now its easy to put back in as you say.
The skin has value in fresh ginger, after a good scrubbing , as you would a new potato I just slice/cut/Julian/grate and add to what is cooking. (with the skin on)
I look forward to trying the Vodka method for the refrigerator.
I am also going to try and store some pieces whole in a small freezer back with chickens broth. that way the complete bag can go into the soup. Little single bags of heaven.
SJ - Team Crumbs
Hi Dawnmarie! Great tips. Let us know how it goes when you try the vodka method!
I have used a spoon to peal ginger and it works surprisingly well, definitely try it you’ll be stunned at how easy it is to peel
Brittany @ Team Crumbs
Thank you for the brilliant tip! Thank you for sharing.
Peeling ginger with a spoon is incredibly easy. Make sure you turn the spoon upside down, and peel away. It doesn’t even take much pressure. Best way, in my opinion!
SJ - Team Crumbs
Thanks for the tip Angie!
I peel, slice and pack my ginger into a mason jar and cover it with vodka and keep it in the refrigerator, with lid tightly closed. I use the flavored vodka for mixed drinks, and make sure ginger stays covered with vodka. Works great. Whenever I need fresh ginger, I just take out what I need.
Kyare - Team Crumbs
why can’t you use a food processor instead of a grater
Karen @ Team Crumbs
We haven’t used a food processor for this, but let us know how it comes out if you try it. 🙂
Mary Emily Cameron
I imagine by now you have learned to use a spoon to peel ginger so I thought I would share my first few tries at this. My niece told me I could use the “of bowl of a spoon.” I was skeptical, yet she is quite accomplished in he kitchen. when I next bought fresh ginger I rubbed it with the bowl and it only pushed the peel on harder. Then one day I realized you use the “edge or side” and not the round bottom. I still chuckle at what I did. Gotta laugh at ourselves now and then.
Grapefruit spoon works best for me. No risk of cutting myself & points on end of spoon can easily dig into the tight knobby grooves. My method (after learning about freezing from you -thank you very much) is …
1) peel fresh ginger root (leaving whole & large as possible)
2) freeze root (in freezer bag) 8 hr or overnight
3) grate or slice as desired (root is cold so I hold with a mini silicone pot holder mitt)
4) can grate or slice whole root & freeze in tsp or tbsp clumps as Tiffany explains
I LOVE this LareeMade! And I had no idea there were spoons just for grapefruits! I think I need to look into that. 🙂
Hello–I know this is an old post but just wanted to say–I stumbled on your DIY recipes for natural skin care items and because I used fresh ginger for the very first time in dinner last night, I just had to find out how to preserve my knob.
My plan–wash it well and slice it thin then freeze (on parchment lined sheets) in stacks of 6 slices. Once frozen, arrange the stacks on their side into a 4 oz freezer mason jar and return to freezer. When I need it just grab a stack n go. I figure no need to peel it because I discard the slices before serving (if DH knew ginger was in there he wouldn’t eat it–but what he doesn’t know …)
This is a great method CTY – thanks for sharing!
So when you freeze the ginger root, before grating – do you put it in a freezer bag or just loose in the freezer?
I put it in a freezer bag.
Brigitte "Mommy Brigitte" Pepin
Hi! There are 2 ways I like to use fresh ginger: One, when I cannot sleep I ground some of it in a cup of warm milk and voila! Let’s get some shut eyes. Two, when I have a bellyache I make a tea by boiling sliced ginger and cinnamon sticks. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes and enjoy it hot.
Those are great ideas Brigitte! I hadn’t thought about either one before. Thanks for sharing! ♥
I store the whole knob in a freezer bag (unpeeled). When needed, I use a microplane to grate off as much of the ginger as my recipe calls for. We don’t seem to notice the peel; it’s grated so finely I expect it all just blends in!
I’m guessing the extra fiber doesn’t hurt. 😉
I grow lots of ginger as well, so just put it into the freezer and grate as needed. I do like your little spoons of grated ginger though – they look so cute.
Thanks! They’re super easy to pull from a baggie and toss into a recipe too. I did it last night with egg roll in a bowl!
Yep, a spoon is the way to peel it. Easier than anything else and you can’t cut a finger with it.
Hmm – I’m going to have to give it a try!
A spoon works really well on very fresh ginger, less waste to as you just scrape a very thin layer off
I have also planted ginger in my garden and now have lots available for free
I do freeze it as you suggest Tiff.
I also gift knobs of (free) fresh ginger to friends, they 😊 love it
I’d love free ginger as a gift too!!
So Marthea, how do you plant ginger? Can I do it in a container? How long from the time you plant to the time you harvest? We love ginger and I usually have a knob in the freezer.
To plant the bits of ginger root, I just stick it in a container of potting soil that I have on my back porch. I plant it about an inch or so under the surface, horizontally (but you should check some gardening sites to see if that’s the right depth – that’s just how I started doing it and it works for me). We have it on the drip irrigation so it gets watered regularly, and it will eventually grow a pretty leafy green stalk. I have found the root grows in an elongated way, where it grows a new horizontal extension and sprouts off the extension. This means when you want to harvest, you can just reach into the soil and break off a piece of the “tail” part of the root and it won’t disturb the green leafy plant. It can go dormant so don’t stress if nothing happens for awhile. Just keep watering and it will eventually grow in its own cycle.
I’ve also done this with bits of ginger that have either gotten a little past their prime, or when I’m leaving on a trip and I worry the ginger won’t last.
It’s so nice to have ginger around. I use much more ginger than I can “grow” but this is a nice backup option. It’s saved more than one recipe for me – all I need to do is plunge my hand in the soil and root around a bit until I find a ginger hunk and break it off. Voila!
Be aware- Fresh ginger is spicy! But it’s amazing.
Note – there are some decorative varieties of ginger that are sold in garden nurseries- these are lovely garden accents with fragrant flowers. The leaves look similar to what my kitchen ginger grows. I did some research and apparently the decorative gingers are edible also but not commonly used for culinary uses (“used in times of famine” according to one site lol). I did a taste test and wholeheartedly agree that decorative gingers aren’t suited for culinary purposes – they’re bland and fibrous. Blech. But if you want to know what the greenery of your kitchen ginger will look like, check out garden nursery photos of decorative ginger. Your kitchen ginger won’t flower to my knowledge but the leafing structure is similar.
Ooops sorry I just looked up a few things about growing kitchen (culinary) ginger.
1) It will go dormant in winter so stop watering it in winter otherwise it will rot. I guess I did that naturally and didn’t realize it!
2) Also, it likes warm climates and isn’t happy under 55 degrees. I’m in Zone 9 so I didn’t realize I gave instructions that might not be appropriate for northern climates. But – a quick internet search should answer some questions for you northerners! Hope this helps.
Me tooo 😊