Growing and Using Ginger
I started my first planting of ginger three years ago and have had a steady supply ever since. It is fun and easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. The rhizomes need about 10 months of warm-hot temperatures to grow to maturity. So, depending upon where you live, the plants may have to be moved inside during the colder periods.
I went to my local grocery store and bought some organic ginger, since it has not been sprayed with chemicals that prevent it from sprouting. I purchased a large Brazilian ginger and a smaller ginger root from Peru. Break the ginger into smaller pieces, looking for any pointy ends, or eyes that will sprout, making sure that each piece has at least one of those. I grow mine in these fabric grow bags. The soil mixture I use is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 topsoil and a few handfuls of pearlite.
Growing and Maintenance:
Above, you can see the sprouts peaking through the soil. It grows during the warm months so I plant it (and harvest it) in late winter (mid-February) and grow it inside until it is warm enough outside. Then I move it outdoors for the summer.
The ginger plants are about 9-inches tall here, with multiple sprouts coming from each piece of ginger root that I planted.
Full size plants grow to about 4-feet in height.
Over-wintering and Harvest:
In the late fall here in Maine, before it gets too cold, the plants comes back inside until mid-February when I harvest the crop. This year my leaves died back in a cold spell in early February and I harvested a few weeks later. To harvest, cut back any remaining stems and leaves at the top of the rhizome. Empty the fabric bag and remove the dirt from the rhizome clumps. Rinse the dirt from the rhizomes and trim away any dangling roots. Hold back enough small pieces with nodules (little spikes) for planting next years crop. About 7 small pieces fit into a 15-gallon felt bag and will produce a little over 2-pounds of fresh ginger every year to consume.
Fresh ginger root will keep for over a month in the refrigerator if stored properly. Keep the root piece intact (not peeled) in a ziplock bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
For more extended storage, you can store ginger in the freezer for up to 6 months. I use two methods to store frozen ginger. The first is to peel the ginger and place it in ziplock bags. My second, and preferred, method is to clean the ginger well, coarsely chop it (skin and all) and make a puree of it in a food processor. Spoon the wet mixture into silicone trays or ice cube trays and freeze. Once solid, remove the blocks from the molds and keep them in ziplock bags in the freezer until needed. Pop a block into a pot of soup, or thaw a block and add it with the garlic in a stir fry.
Using Fresh Ginger:
The easiest way to peel fresh ginger root is to use the back of a small spoon as you can see in the photo above.
My Ginger Dressing (recipe below) has always been one of my go-to dressings. It works well on any “Asian” salad, like my Ginger Chicken Salad from my first cookbook, page 122, that features Napa cabbage, snow peas, ginger-marinated chicken breasts, sesame seeds and wonton crisps. Here are some of my other recipes that use fresh ginger:
- Lobster Toast – https://chefmichaelsalmon.com/lobster-toast/
- Duck Leg Confit – https://chefmichaelsalmon.com/duck-confit/
- Blueberry-Ginger Dressing – https://chefmichaelsalmon.com/fruit-salad-dressing/
While a spoon makes fast and easy work of peeling fresh ginger root, the microplane is the best tool for grating fresh ginger. The microplane is the perfect tool for preparing finely grated ginger for recipes like dipping sauces.
Ginger DressingCourse: SaladsCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced fresh shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1/3 cup canola oil
- Combine all of the ingredients, except for the oils, in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds to combine well.
- With the blender still running, drizzle in the two oils and blend for an additional 10 seconds.