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To Peel or Not: Ginger Root

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I use a lot of ginger root in cooking. I generally scrub the root under water with a stiff brush, then grate on a ceramic ginger grater. Recently, some friends have been telling me that I should peel the ginger because of health concerns (toxins in soil, etc.)

Now, I am a person who thinks potato skins are marvelous to eat (well-scrubbed, like any veg in my kitchen). I scrub my farmers' market carrots before roasting, but do not peel (that's for supermarket carrots, and the peels (washed, go to my guinea pigs). Is ginger root grown in conditions that would suggest I need to peel it first?

I am of the "waste-not, want-not" persuasion - peeling ginger root seems A) wasteful, because of the shape(s); and B) a PITA, because of the shape(s).

Still, I wonder. Should I be peeling the root before grating? Thoughts either way?

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  1. I always peel gingerroot. Actually, scrape it with a spoon, you lose less of the root that way. On the other hand, I've eaten at many a Chinese restaurant where fresh ginger has been sliced and added to a dish with the peel clearly intact. I don't know about the possible health hazards; I guess I peel the stuff because we always did it that way when I first learned to cook with it.

    1. i always figured that cooking anything would kill any issues surrounding food borne illness. i only peel ginger if it is going to be chopped and therefore eaten. but most of the time, i add large slices to whatever i'm cooking (with the peel on) and then fish them out when i serve it.

      1. I don't peel ginger, either. If I chop it, it is so fine, the roughage of the peel is insignificant. Ditto for grating. If preserving by soaking in simple syrup or candying it, I'd peel it.

        1. A potato skin is tasty, a ginger root skin is not. Why peel an onion? Garlic? Because the skin tastes bad. Scrape it with a spoon.

          1. My parents never peeled ginger while I was growing up. But I also grew up where ginger was fresh and was hardly dirty. A good scrubbing should be fine. I do peel and try to chop it really fine when I make arroz caldo (rice porridge w/ chicken) for my 1 year old.

            1. I have never peeled ginger, neither at home nor in either commercial kitchen (one Chinese and one Japanese) in which I've worked.

              1. If I may extend your potatoe analogy, it is sometimes necessary to peel even with firm, young ginger.

                Just as mashed potatoes need to be peeled so the hard skins do not interfere with the mashing, ginger needs to be peeled before being pounded in a mortar for curries, sauces and pastes, or before grating it for juice in Japanese cuisine. I also find it much easier to crush rounds of ginger with the back of my chef's knife if I have first peeled off most of the tough, fibrous skin.

                I also agree that the peel is not much fun to eat, so I often remove it before adding chopped ginger to stir-fries. But I see no need to peel it before adding slices to soups or stews.

                As long as it is healthy, fresh ginger, washed and cooked, there is no need to worry about bacteria or toxins.

                1. For tea I wouldn't peel ginger root or to flavor food if I intended to take it out (like removing a bay leaf) but I always thought the skin would be bitter if I kept it on recipes that called for grated/chopped fresh ginger root.

                  Next time I'll try leaving it on and see how it tastes.