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What is a good substitute for ginger?

I don't care much for the taste of ginger and so I avoid most recipes that require it.

What is a good substitue?

I did buy a small piece of ginger root today to sample it again, maybe it is just that I have never used fresh ginger before.

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  1. What kind of thing were you wanting to try? If it's sweet things like ginger cake or ginger cookies I don't think there is a substitute, I would just cook something different instead.

    If it's curry or stew-type dishes but you've never used fresh ginger root before, I would cook one according to the recipe and see what you think - it generally adds to an overall exotic flavour rather than being strongly 'ginger'. And then if you don't like it, I'd probably just leave it out, i don't think it'd be a reason not to cook a recipe at all, IMHO.

    1. Fresh ginger is very unlike its other forms--powdered, candied, etc. Before worrying about how to sub it out, you should try a recipe or two.

      Do you know how to grate or mince it? It's pretty tough stuff. Would you be interested in some Indian or other Asian recipes?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bada Bing

        >Do you know how to grate or mince it? It's pretty tough stuff

        Microplane to the rescue!

      2. definitely don't search for a sub before you have tried the real thing!

        1. Fresh ginger root is superior to dried powdered ginger; I've pretty much given up on the dried form, and keep grated fresh ginger in the freezer, along with a frozen chunk if I want a slice or two instead. The flavor of fresh vs dried is a bit different, the latter having more heat and bite, but I prefer the fresh overall. Use fresh to dried as a 6:1 ratio, depending on the age of your ginger root. Young ginger root is mild in flavor, older roots are much more potent. You may decide to use fresh ginger for everything; it is a good sub for dried, but the dried in not a reasonable sub for fresh, especially in Asian dishes.

          There's really no specific spice substitute for ginger; it has a very distinct flavor, but you could try a combo of ground black pepper and nutmeg, or try ground cardamom, or if making a recipe that includes other sweet spices, just up the amounts of those, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg or mace, a bit, and add a little black pepper. Candied ginger, sugar rinsed off and minced, is a good substitute for powder in sweet baked goods.

          1. The closest substitute would be galangal root, which is only vaguely similar in taste to ginger but might add a dimension that would otherwise be missing.

            1. [Quote] What is a good substitute for ginger? [/Quote]

              Mary Ann?

              1 Reply
              1. Alright then, I'll try fresh ginger in my next food tasting whatever. I think it will be a jam or preserves. That seems likely anyway. I like powdered in pumpkin pie!

                What I didn't care for before was the hot sensation. I think I've avoided it because of those experences with it in the past. A little at a time. Thanks for all your ideas.

                As for how to use it, I didn't realize that was a problem. Think I"ll peel and then grate.

                6 Replies
                1. re: chocolatejam

                  the easiest way to peel is to just run a spoon along the skin, which is very thin.

                  1. re: chocolatejam

                    And try to get young ginger, it's less fibrous and easier to grate. When I have the young stuff, I don't peel it, the skin is thin enough.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      Interesting. I've never thought of ginger in terms of its age. How can you tell what's younger? Smaller? Thinner skin?

                      1. re: Bada Bing

                        Young ginger is also referred to as new or stem ginger, has smoother thinner skin that doesn't need peeling, is shiny, can be slightly pinky beige in color, and when cut is not fibrous and quite moist, but it'll be less pungent than mature ginger. I find it frequently in Chinatown in NYC. My local supermarket has mature ginger, thicker skin, more fibrous but not necessarily dry, but certainly not as capable of producing juice as the young stuff. It depends when the ginger was harvested as to whether it'll be young or mature; it's not a matter of ginger sitting around the warehouse or store and aging.

                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                          Thanks. I haven't seen that in a market yet, but maybe that's just a midwest fact of life. Will keep an eye out in the few Asian markets we have here in northern Indiana.

                        2. re: Bada Bing

                          It's the season when a lot of young ginger is available here at the moment. It basically has almost no skin and needs no peeling. Looks a bit moist when compared to mature ginger, basically just as bushwickgirl says. It is much less "hot" than mature ginger, so is good for some things but not for others. The taste is very fresh and zingy.

                          By the way, fresh ginger is just different to dried ginger, not better. They both have their uses and personally I would not sub one for the other.

                    2. I agree that fresh ginger is a world away from dried or preserved, but if you just don't like ginger, in savory dishes, maybe you could add some citrus zest, black pepper, and an asian-type cooking wine. In sweet recipes, just leave it out. I'm not crazy about cinammon in sweet things myself. Like powdered ginger, it doesn't really change the chemistry of the dish and is usually used in such small amounts that it doesn't add to the "dry ingredient" ratio by much either, so a recipe will still work if it's gone. Galangal is a ginger, so if you don't like ginger, I can't imagine you'll like that. So is turneric.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: ninrn

                        Thank you thank you thank you ninrn! This is exactly the reply I was hoping for! I love citrus zest, black pepper. I have no idea if I like asian type cooking wine, as I don't do alcohol at all.

                        And the changing the chemistry of a dish answer, I'm really trying to spread my wings with my cooking. I can't have salt, so I'm trying hard to expand my use of herbs and spices.

                        I had no Idea turneric was ginger! Yesterday for the first time in my life I saw turneric roots at an international market, Jungle Jims near the Cinninati Oh area, I had to pick it up and smell it. The only use I've every know for it was in making pickles, used dried. Who knew?

                        Love this site for all the new things I'm picking up.

                        1. re: chocolatejam

                          Let's not get confused about this - turmeric is in the same family as ginger. It is not the same as ginger! Also in this family is cardamom, just a fun fact for you there. If you see the plants growing you will definitely see the resemblance.

                          1. re: Muchlove

                            "Let's not get confused about this - turmeric is in the same family as ginger. It is not the same as ginger!"

                            The same is true of galangal.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              Yep, again another one where you can see the similarities in the plants as well as the rhizomes. Apologies for not pointing this out in my reply, a lot of people do seem to think that galangal is the same as ginger so it is worth saying loudly and repeatedly!

                              It also should be pointed out that it is completely nonsensical to say that since they are in the same family, if you dislike one you will dislike them all. Now if you had an allergy to one then it would be prudent to check that the others wouldn't cause the same issue. But if you merely dislike the flavour of one, then you should know that the others have vastly different flavours so don't be put off from trying.

                              1. re: Muchlove

                                Muchlove and MGZ: I don't think anybody's getting confused. Galangal is a type of ginger -- blue ginger. The taste is remarkably similar to that of regular garden ginger, especially when one is dealing with commercially produced versions of the plants, so I don't think it was an affront to reason to suggest that someone who doesn't like ginger probably wouldn't like galangal. I didn't mean to suggest that turneric tasted just like ginger or that the OP wouldn't like or shouldn't try turmeric. I was just pointing out that it, too, is a ginger. And while the broader ginger family does indeed include cardamom and turmeric, galangal and garden ginger are even more closely related as members of the same "true ginger" genus, hence the closeness in flavor.

                          2. re: chocolatejam

                            You're welcome, Chocolatejam (which, by the way, sounds delicious).

                            I was trying to think of where ginger hits on my tongue and what could do the same thing without, again, changing the cooking chemistry too much. I think ginger's definitely got some of the pith-y taste of citrus zest (like lime, not orange), and the slow, deep heat of black pepper. I thought an Asian-style cooking wine, or maybe even something like gin or vodka, would provide some of the freshness and cleanness of ginger, without the fruitiness of Western wine or the sourness of citrus juice. But if you don't want to use alcohol, I don't know, maybe a little tomato and/or celery? If you love citrus zest and black pepper, though, I'm thinking you might end up loving fresh ginger, too, and all this will be moot.

                            Happy eating,
                            Ninrn