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Cooking Tips

Spoons and Freezers: Surprising Tools for Prepping Fresh Ginger

We teach you how to peel, grate, smash, and slice ginger.
By Published Aug. 1, 2022

Ginger, a powerhouse ingredient used in both sweet and savory applications, is known for its spicy, fiery bite and floral pungency.

Often mistakenly referred to as a root, ginger is actually a rhizome, an underground stem that stores food and produces roots and buds. It is part of the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes turmeric, cardamom, and galangal (a close cousin to ginger). 

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Here are four things to know about prepping fresh ginger.

How to Peel Fresh Ginger

Paring knives and peelers remove too much of ginger’s flesh. A curved spoon is much easier to maneuver around the root, making it easy to remove the peel while leaving the flesh behind.

Peeling ginger with a spoon

To quickly peel a knob of ginger, hold it firmly against the cutting board and use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape away the thin, brown skin.

How to Slice Fresh Ginger

Ginger should be sliced against the grain because it has long fibers running through it lengthwise that can be chewy and stringy. Cutting against the grain (or perpendicular to the fibers rather than parallel to them) breaks down the long fibers.

Slice ginger against the grain

To slice ginger, cut it crosswise (against the grain) into thin rounds.

How to Grate Fresh Ginger

Ginger can still have a fibrous texture when minced or coarsely grated. To shorten the fibers so that they are less noticeable, grate the ginger to a fine pulp. Tip: Freeze the ginger to make it easier to grate.

You can freeze ginger to make it easier to grate

To grate ginger, peel a small section of a larger piece of ginger and then grate the peeled portion using a fine or rasp-style grater. Use the unpeeled ginger as a handle.

How to Smash Fresh Ginger

Smashing ginger releases flavorful oils. This technique works best when you want to impart the flavor of ginger to a liquid, such as broth.

Smash ginger under the blade of a knife

To smash ginger, slice it into rounds and then, using the heel of your hand, carefully apply pressure to the flat side of a chef’s knife.

A nub of ginger can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for prolonged storage. Once the ginger begins to shrivel and dry out, its flavor will be less pungent, so it’s best to buy small pieces and use it while it’s fresh.

Here are some of our favorite recipes that call for fresh ginger.