Storing Fresh Ginger

Ginger rhizomes

Fresh ginger, also known as ginger root, adds a flavorful punch—spicy, pungent, sweet—to a variety of sweet and savory dishes and is one of the key ingredients in Asian, Indian, and Caribbean cuisines.  Fresh ginger root is usually grated or slivered.  Ginger can also be dried and ground; ground ginger is a spice commonly used in baked goods by Americans and Europeans.

Ginger originated in India and was regarded as an essential spice and medicine for various ailments.  It was one of the first spices traded globally making its way into Europe and other Mediterranean regions via the various trade routes.  Ginger quickly gained in popularity making it a highly sought after commodity at significant cost.  Spanish explorers brought ginger to the New World.

There are many varieties of ginger but all are an herbaceous perennial–not to be confused with Wild Ginger, a weedy ground cover.  Ginger is cultivated throughout the tropics in some 40 different countries.  India is the largest producer of ginger followed by China.  Hawaii is the largest producer in the US; however, ginger can be grown in home gardens throughout the US. If started indoors in March, ginger can be successfully propagated, transplanted and grown in Midwest gardens for fall harvest.

The aroma and flavor of ginger is greatly influenced by where it is grown, cultivar used, growing conditions, and time of harvest. The peak season for commercially grown fresh ginger is early spring through late summer (April, May) and is known as spring or young ginger.  Spring or young ginger has a very thin skin and is juicy, mild and tender; it may also exhibit pink knobs or pink blush.  Ginger harvested in the fall is known as mature ginger; it has a tougher skin and is more pungent and fibrous.  Whether young or mature, the rhizome should be firm and have a light brown skin.  Removing the skin from the rhizome is optional; if removed, scraping is recommended over peeling.  Ginger may be grated, chopped, sliced minced, or julienned.

Keeping Ginger Fresh
To preserve the qualities of ginger, it is important to keep it as fresh as possible.  Unless you have long-term plans for fresh ginger, purchase only what fits your needs as closely as possible. A recipe may call for a thumb or a specific amount of ginger.  If a recipe calls for a thumb of ginger, it usually means a piece that is approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) long, ½ inches (1.5 centimeters) in diameter, weighs 0.5 ounces (15 grams), and will yield one tablespoon of minced ginger.

Fresh, unpeeled ginger can be kept on the counter at room temperature for 1-2 weeks but is better kept in an airtight container/bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer where freshness can be retained for 4-6 weeks.  Leftover peeled ginger will keep 2-3 weeks if tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.   Do watch the rhizome for molding, softness, discoloration or off smell or appearance; these are signs of spoilage and if detected, the rhizome should be disposed.  Like other fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh ginger contains enzymes that break down its starch and pectin over time.

If longer storage is needed, fresh ginger can be preserved by freezing, storing in alcohol, dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, and candying.

Freezing.  Scrap the skin.  Slice, grate, or chop the ginger.  Place sliced ginger in a freezer bag removing as much air as possible.  Grated and finely chopped ginger is best frozen in small piles on parchment paper or in ice cube trays and flash frozen (tray method) prior to packaging.  Fresh ginger will maintain its best quality in the freezer for 3 months but will remain safe well beyond that time; in fact, ginger that has been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep indefinitely.

Storing in Alcohol.  Scrap the skin and slice the ginger.  Place in a glass jar and cover with vodka or other alcohol. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.  The vodka will take on the flavor of the ginger; despite the alcohol, the ginger works well in stir-fries, sauces, soups, and marinades.

Dehydrating.  When properly stored, dried ginger will keep for a year.  Dried ginger can also be made into ginger powder.

Pickling.  Scrap and thinly slice 1 pound of ginger.  Pack sliced ginger into a quart jar.  Prepare a brine of 1 ¼ cups rice vinegar, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup mirin, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt.  Bring to a boil.  Pour over ginger.  Let cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 week and for up to 3 months. (Recipe source:  Joy of Cooking, November 2019)  Pickled ginger is used as a side dish called gari with sushi.

Fermenting.  Similar to pickling, scraped and sliced ginger is place in a sterilized jar.  The ginger slices are submerged in a salt, sugar, rice wine, and water solution.  A lid is placed on the jar and allowed to set at room temperature for 5-10 days after which it is placed in the refrigerator for keeping up to 3 months.   Fermented ginger is more commonly used in Chinese cooking and dried chilies and other ingredients may be added to the ferment.

Candied.  Scraped and thinly sliced ginger is first boiled in water and then a sugar syrup.  Check out this easy recipe.  Candied ginger is often used in baking or eaten as a snack.

Ginger adds flavor and health benefits to many different kinds of foods.  Prolong the flavor and benefits by keeping it fresh and usable for as long as possible.


The Journey of Ginger and How Ginger Came to Be.  Fresh Zen
History of the Spice Trade.  Silk Road
How to Grow Tropical Ginger for At-home Spice.  Illinois Extension
How Much Is a Thumb of Ginger?  The Whole
Ways to Prepare and Serve Ginger.  Harvest to
4 Ways to Store Ginger for Months.  Cici Li Asian Home Cooking.

Updated February 2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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2 thoughts on “Storing Fresh Ginger

  1. I was actually wondering, may sound dumb. Lol but wondering if ginger root could be planted in a pot and grow ginger? I was going to actually going try it and keep the pot in the house. Is this possible?

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