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Jan 24, 2011 07:37 PM

Things To Make Cooking Easier, I'll start with fresh ginger...

As I was whipping up some chicken teriyaki tonight (I'm addicted!), it occurred to me that it might be worth sharing how I keep fresh ginger fresh and at the ready for instant use, no waste. When I get it home, I wash it, trim off any particularly ugly parts, then slip it into a zip lock freezer bag and tuck it in the freezer. As I need fresh ginger, I microplane off as much as I need and stick the ginger back into the freezer for next time. So easy, no peeling required. If I need "ginger juice," there are two options: cut off a chunk and juice it with my garlic press, OR grate some into enough water to moisten. Either way works.

Got any kitchen tricks that work particularly well for you? Thanks!

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  1. I do that too!

    My freezer is an "instant chefs" toolbox.
    I also always have 3 or 4 jars of preserved lemons and
    fresh herbs in the freezer (tarragon, basil, chives, etc).

    3 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      Lemons preserved in salt? Interesting. It would never have occurred to me to freeze them. Do you have to defrost the whole thing to use them?

      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        Oh! Sorry, I didn't mean I froze the preserved lemons (they are a pantry item).

        1. re: sedimental

          OK, you really had me curious about that!
          I always have preserved lemons, too, and need to figure out more ways to use them.

    2. I just found chopped ginger in a jar---now there's easy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        I use that, too. I'm sure the purists would scoff, but I think it's great.

        1. re: escondido123

          Yep, I use that, too. I would never use garlic in a jar, but this stuff is pretty good, and it keeps a long time.

        2. Thanks. I'll have to try this as I am constantly throwing out moldy ginger.

          5 Replies
          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            I buy ginger fresh, peel it, chunk it and chop it in my food processor. I keep it in a little tupperware and defrost as needed. It is wonderful!

            1. re: wineos

              Years ago, I read a hint to store fresh ginger in a jar of sherry in the fridge, then as you use the ginger up, you can use the flavored sherry in your recipes as well.
              I did it that way for years, but I just haven't had sherry sitting around lately, so I have been using white wine to keep the ginger. No mold, never had any problems with spoilage, and the flavor it gives to the wine is delicate and lovely.

              1. re: jmcarthur8

                Believe it or not it works great with ginger ale too!

                1. re: HillJ

                  You can also plant the unused ginger root in a pot of potting mix. It will grow. Not a bad house plant at all!

                  When you want some, pull out the plant, whack off a piece and replant it.

                  Caveat: When you buy your fresh root, look for one that has little sprout 'bumps' (for lack of a better word) on it.


            2. I have all sorts of interesting / weird stuff in my freezer.

              I found these neat little ice cube trays with silicone bottoms - they hold about a tablespoon. I fill them with tomato paste (don't you hate opening a can of tomato paste for 1 tablespoon?) grated ginger (I do it all at once and freeze it already grated), pureed chopotles en adobo, lemon juice. . . anything I'd typically need just a little bit of.

              Also - 1/2 cups of stock frozen in muffin tins, popped out and put in a freezer bag.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Krislady

                Like Kislady I'm a big ice cube tray user. I freeze leftover coffee, fresh veg & fruit juice, broth, sauces, garlic, ginger, herbs, small amts. of puree. I also freeze "pretty" cubes with edible flowers or sliced fruits/single herb leaves suspended in water for cocktails. And I freeze prepared butters in cubed portions.

                1. re: Krislady

                  I use a tube rather than cans of tomato paste -- I doubt I'll ever buy a can of tomato paste again -- same with anchovy paste, and I keep them in the fridge.

                  I'm all about freezing cubes of stock, but I've found that if I freeze too many unusual things, before long it's out of control and I'm trying to dig through an overpacked freezer.

                  1. re: Niblet

                    You pay a HUGE premium for the convenience of the tube of tomato paste. Freezing leftover canned paste is far more economical. Besides the cubes or small freezer containers, there is flattening it in a freezer bag from which you then break off chunks.

                    I freeze sauteed and caramelized onions, which because of the oil do not freeze solid so it's easy to fork out what you need. I also slice/chop and freeze raw onions when they are on sale. Because freezing bursts cell walls, the onions cook faster from frozen than freshly-prepped ones do.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      I do this too. I typically freeze onions in a zip -bag pressed flat- to break off what I need. Recently, I froze caramelized onions (no oil) in muffin tins. Now I have "hockey pucks" of caramelized onions!

                    2. re: Niblet

                      I am with you, Niblet, on both counts. That tube of tomato paste is incredibly useful and well worth the premium price.

                      And, I also think that the frozen cube approach is over-rated. In fact, one of my first attempts was with red wine. The idea was that the tray of cubes would lead to not having to open a bottle of wine (and why is that a problem, she asked?). Instead it lead to red-wine-slushy all over the bottom of my freezer.

                      1. re: LJS

                        I found an ice-cube tray with a clip-lock top which solved that problem! I use it for leftover coconut milk, I should get another one to do it for wine too.

                      2. re: Niblet

                        When I open a can of tomato paste, after using as much as I need I put the rest in a zip lock sandwich bag, squeeze the air out, zip shut, smush flat and draw an "X" in it with my finger and freeze. The frozen quarters average out to about a Tbsp each, they're thin so they melt or dissolve easily, and when it's all used up, nothing to clean! And it's cheap.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Oh, Iike that idea! Thank you very much! I once preached a sermon on how hard it is to clean out the jar of tomato paste for proper re-cycling (the point was it is, like many ethical things, both difficult and worthwhile). I had more reaction to that (and more sympathy than just about anything else I have ever spoken about!)

                      3. re: Krislady

                        Thanks for the tip about the stock. I never really thought about it before, but I think I'm going to start freezing it in 1/2 cup portions.

                        With tomato paste, I usually keep a tube of the double-concentrate in the fridge. I also keep cans in the pantry when I need a large amount, as the tube is a bit more expensive, but the tube keeps pretty much indefinitely and is great for small applications. (I've also been known to squeeze it on breadsticks or crackers or sometimes just squeeze a bit in my mouth. I think it's my crack.)

                        1. re: Krislady

                          I just put tablespoon scoops of tomato paste on a baking sheet and freeze. They stay separate enough to pull off one or more from a zipping bag.

                        2. Frozen chopped garlic. Oh, the time saved, not to mention the fact that I loathe chopping garlic. I must admit, I buy mine, but I've read here on CH that you can do the same thing yourself; some users advocate a little vegetable oil to keep them separate, others just freeze. (The brand I buy, btw, is misted with just a bit of veg oil.)

                          I've been doing the ginger thing in the freezer as well -- works beautifully. When I remember/have time, I also freeze lemon zest.