Food & Drink

Tricks Of The Trade: How To Tackle Fresh Ginger

Aromatic, pungent and just a little bit spicy, ginger bestows a special flavor on all kinds of dishes. To enjoy it at its best, ignore that who-knows-how-old canister of ground ginger in your cupboard and opt for the fresh variety. It's available year-round in the produce section of your supermarket, and it's dirt cheap. Below, a few tips for how to get the most out of it ...

Unless you add ginger to absolutely everything, it's difficult to use an entire root before it loses its freshness. Fortunately, ginger keeps very well in the freezer. If it hasn't been cut, you can put the root in a sealed plastic container in the freezer and take it out to peel as needed. (Really, it's that easy.) If it's already peeled, you can grate the remaining ginger with a Microplane and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap in teaspoon or tablespoon sizes. You can store ginger in the fridge, too -- just slice it into into chunks and preserve it in a jar of dry sherry or mirin, a sweetened rice vinegar. It will keep up to several months this way.

Depending on your mood, you can enjoy ginger in a wide variety of recipes.

In a Snack
This smooth, healthy dip owes most of its flavor to the tablespoon of fresh ginger mixed into it.
Edamame Ginger Dip

In Veggies
Fresh ginger livens up vegetables from every season. Just saute for a few minutes first.
Glazed Carrots with Cardamom and Ginger
Spicy Ginger Spinach

For Dinner
Ginger shines in all kinds of main dishes, especially those with Asian and Indian origins.
Ginger Beef Salad
Fish in Carrot Ginger Broth
Gingered Chicken Vegetable Ramen Soup

In a Drink
Warm soothing ginger tea is probably the perfect after-dinner drink to serve stuffed guests over the holidays. When the weather's warmer, it's especially refreshing in bubbly beverages like ginger fizz.
Ginger Tea
Homemade Tea Blend
Lemon Ginger Fizz

In addition to being tasty in all kinds of dishes, ginger has a few health benefits, too. It's a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and vitamin B6. And you've probably heard about how it can help to alleviate nausea. That's not just an old wive's tale: ginger has a long history of being used to fix upset stomachs for good reason -- one of its active compounds, 6-gingerol, helps to relax gastrointestinal muscles. Ginger has also been proven to reduce muscle soreness a day or more after an intense workout, and some research shows its anti-inflammatory properties might help to stop arthritis pain. So, get cooking!