Ginger is a flowering plant that grows from the rhizome knob, which we know as the ginger root. It is one of the culinary kitchen essentials that no household should ever have a shortage of. You can add ginger to savory or sweet dishes; it adds a floral and citrus aroma to any dish. But does ginger go bad, and how can you tell if it’s past its prime?
Ginger can go bad. Fresh ginger will only last for a month, at most. You can tell that ginger is bad when it is soft and squishy or if there is any sign of discoloration on the ginger’s skin. The ginger will turn from a light-yellow brown to a moldy white, grey, or greenish due to moisture.
The nutritional value of ginger rhizome (as the root is commonly referred to) should never be overlooked. Ginger is a good source of magnesium, copper, potassium, vitamin B6, and manganese. Nonetheless, as with anything, if you let ginger go bad, it will lose all the nutritional value it can add to your diet and health. Let’s look at how ginger goes bad and what you can do to make it last.
Does Ginger Go Bad, And How Can You Tell If It Has?
As with everything in life, ginger also has a life cycle. As soon as the ginger root is harvested from the ground, a countdown begins that will determine when the ginger starts losing its peppery and spicy flavor and aroma. There are a few stages in ginger’s lifecycle that you should consider to know precisely when the ginger will start showing signs of degrading.
To make it easier for you, let’s see precisely how fresh ginger should look when you buy it from the grocer and what signs you should look for to tell if the ginger you are about to purchase is already showing signs of decay.
When you look at the ginger that the grocer has to offer, you should always look at the texture of the root. The ginger should be firm, rough, and knotted. Also, when you look at the surface, there should be thin, long streaks on the ginger’s skin.
The thickness of the ginger’s skin only shows when the ginger root is harvested. When you harvest a younger ginger root, the skin will be thinner (which you can cut into your food with the ginger flesh). If you have a mature ginger root, the skin will be thicker and should be peeled before you use it. The skin is rigid and does not taste very delicious if you end up putting it in your food.
The color of the ginger’s flesh can either be red, white, or yellow; the color is only an indication of the variety of the ginger and not a sign if the ginger is good or bad.
The stages of ginger roots that are going bad will vary based on the conditions the ginger was kept in while it was distributed from harvesting to the grocer and also how you store it at home. The main thing that you should always consider is that ginger does not do well in heat or moisture. If you keep those elements away, the ginger will be thankful (as will your tastebuds).
Sign #1: Color
One of the earliest signs that ginger is going bad due to exposure to too much heat is dryness. The skin and the flesh of the ginger will dry out. The color of the skin will also not have the light pale yellow-brown color that ginger skin should have.
If you place two ginger roots side by side, you can tell which one was exposed to the sun since its skin will be a little darker brown than a ginger root that is still fresh.
Never be afraid to break one of the ginger rhizomes off and look at the flesh of the ginger. If it is not red, white, or yellow, and you find the flesh to be brown instead, it is already showing signs of degrading.
Sign #2: Mold or Mushiness
Another significant sign of bad ginger is that it was exposed to moisture. This is evident when the skin of the ginger shows mold, softness, and mushiness. The skin can also go from the light pale yellow-brown to grey, white, or greenish mold particles. If there are already signs of this decay on the ginger at the grocery store, then you should obviously not buy that ginger.
Sign #3: Smell
If your ginger starts to bad after you’ve purchased it, you can sometimes cut off some of the molds as long as it does not spread from the skin into the flesh of the ginger.
You should first determine this by smelling the ginger. If it smells okay, then remove the moldy skin from the ginger. Smell it again, and if it smells or seems stale at any point, then discard the ginger immediately.
How To Store Fresh Ginger
Fresh ginger can be stored in three main ways: on the counter, in the fridge, or in the freezer. All of these storing methods will give you different results and outcomes. You should ensure that you use the correct procedure for your purposes to be sure that the fresh ginger does not go bad in your house.
The methods you should prepare the fresh ginger to be stored in the three different ways can also differ. Grocery stores use two of these methods. We have all seen the pink pickled ginger and minced organic ginger in the grocery store. That is one method. The other is the ginger that you can find along with the other fresh produce in the refrigerators.
You can use these same methods to store ginger at home. You can either pickle your own ginger, or you can mince it. You need to know that your own pickled ginger will not last longer than two to three days in the fridge. Ensure that you have enough culinary ideas to use all of the ginger in that time before the ginger goes bad.
As for minced ginger, you can safely store it in the fridge for two to three weeks or freeze it for optimal use for up to four to six months.
On The Counter
Ginger stays fresh on the counter for a week; that Is why you should always select the best-looking ginger that you can find from the grocer. Fresh ginger stored this way will add more texture, flavor, and aroma to your food, but the time is ticking for fresh ginger and the optimal flavor and aroma that it can add to your meals. Be prepared to use it within a week.
Another element you need to account for when storing fresh ginger on the counter is to place it in any dry and cool spot. You should never leave the ginger in the sun. The ginger will dry out if left out in a sunny area, which will make the ginger go bad faster.
If you know you will not be able to use the entire ginger rhizome within a week, you should look at the other two methods of storing ginger in order to get your money’s worth out of your purchase.
In The Fridge
If you find that you will not be able to store the ginger on the counter for longer than a week and you won’t be able to use it on time, you should start looking for alternative ways to keep the ginger fresher for longer. Ginger can last for up to two to three weeks In the fridge. This also depends on how you decide to store it in the fridge. Ginger needs to be kept away from moisture at all costs.
Moisture is bad for ginger, and mold will develop if ginger is exposed to moisture. Ginger must be kept in a dry and cool area in the fridge. Another way you can ensure longevity is to store the ginger in a kitchen paper towel in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Just make sure that the paper towel remains dry during the three weeks of storage. Check regularly and replace it if necessary.
Another way you can bring the kitchen paper towel to good use is to wrap the ginger in it and then place it in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag. But bear in mind that all of these methods will only delay the inevitable; the ginger can still go bad if you store it this way. Keep an eye on the ginger for any signs of excessive dryness, moisture, or mold during the two to three weeks.
In The Freezer
Some people buy ginger in bulk so they can always have ginger on hand, but it’s challenging to keep ginger fresh for three weeks or more. So, they often freeze their ginger to ensure that they still get quality flavor and aroma from it.
If you see that you will not be able to use all the ginger roots during the three weeks that refrigeration allows you, you should consider freezing some of your ginger roots. Under normal circumstances, ginger can stay fresh in the freezer for up to six months if it’s stored properly.
There are a few practical ways to store fresh ginger in the freezer. If you buy your ginger in bulk, and you have enough that you can keep it in a freezer-safe container, then you can cut the fresh ginger up in the sizes that you require for your specific recipes. As long as the ginger is safe from any freezer burn, you can safely use this method.
Another method that works well is placing the ginger in a freezer bag. Don’t remove the skin before you freeze the ginger since that will cause the ginger to lose its spicy flavor and aroma, and then the whole point of freezing it in the first place is lost.
Freezing and refrigerating will cause the ginger to lose some of its flavor and nutritional value at the best of times, but it’s still better than letting the ginger go bad and losing all of it. But remember that fresh is always best, so if you can avoid freezing or refrigerating it, store it on the counter instead and use it before it goes down.
How To Tell If Minced Ginger Is Bad
In the case of store-bought minced ginger, it is more difficult to tell exactly when it gets to the point where it is bad. The ginger is exposed to many elements that it does not do well in. Fresh ginger is already peeled in order to process it in minced form, so you are exposing the flesh to oxygen and then placed in an environment where it will stay in its own liquid, exposing it to moisture.
This means that minced ginger has already disobeyed three of the rules required to keep ginger fresh: don’t remove the skin before you use it, don’t expose it to air, and don’t expose it to moisture. So, we have to avoid exposing it to heat at all costs.
As soon as you get home after shopping, place the minced ginger in the fridge immediately and keep an eye out for any bacteria and mold growth. Because it is already minced, you won’t even notice if it becomes soft and mushy. When the ginger starts to smell mildewy or loses its flavor and aroma in any way, discard it immediately. If at all possible, use the minced ginger within three weeks.
Does Ginger Spice Go Bad?
Ginger spice does not go bad in the traditional sense, but it will lose some flavor and aroma over time. They place expiration dates on perishable goods for a reason, including the spices in your cupboard. Ginger spice does not become unsafe to use in any way, but it will no longer have the desired result in those ginger biscuits or the pumpkin pie for Christmas.
Ginger spice’s optimal shelf-life, and the time that it will take for the spice to lose its prime, are up to three years. This timeframe can change if the spice was exposed to oxygen when the ginger spice was produced since this can lead to the spice not having the right flavor or aroma to begin with, or at least it won’t be as potent.
You can also store the ginger spice, or any of your other spices, in airtight containers to maintain optimal freshness for as long as possible. Airtight glass containers can prevent the ginger spice from losing oxygen prematurely since oxygen exposure is the reason why spices lose their flavor and aroma in the first place.
Heat is also an enemy of spices; this includes ginger as well. It is important to always store your spices in a cool and dry spot where temperatures do not fluctuate much. While you are storing it, write down the date you purchased the ginger spice and the expiration date. You can paste a sticker on the container with the dates on there to remember when the ginger spice will be past its prime.
How To Tell If Pickled Ginger Is Bad
Pickled ginger is made from young ginger because it is less fibrous. It works well when you pickle young ginger. Of course, if you pickle the root, it ensures that you can preserve your ginger for longer. As long as the jar stays closed, pickled ginger can last until the expiration date stated by the manufacturer, which is usually a total of approximately six months.
As soon as you open the jar, time also starts ticking for the pickled ginger. After you open the jar, you should store any leftover pickled ginger in the refrigerator. This will help the ginger to retain its flavor and delay the inevitable best-before date by a little bit.
You should keep in mind that ginger does not like oxygen at all, so once you’ve opened the jar, you cannot keep it in the refrigerator for long. It will first lose its flavor, and soon it will spoil. Ginger stored this way should only be kept for a maximum of five days.
Is Ginger Bad If It Sprouts?
Ginger is not toxic, poisonous, or harmful if it is sprouting. You can still get good culinary use from the ginger root that does not have the sprout. Break the sprouting roots off, then use or store the other ginger roots as you would any other fresh ginger. Of course, that is if it doesn’t show any of the other signs that the ginger is bad or unusable.
As for the part of the ginger that has the sprout on it, you can either colonize your own ginger at home, discard it, or gift it to a friend or neighbor if they want it. It is safe to eat, but it won’t taste as good.
Honestly, none of us like it when something goes to waste, so do not throw it away if you can help it. You can grow that sprouted ginger with a bit of innovation and creativity. That way, you can always have a supply of fresh ginger at home. But it is your choice, of course. If you don’t have the time or desire to do so, you can safely gift it or throw it away.
Ginger is a wonderful spice (one of my favorites, as you can tell by the name of this blog!) 😉 However, fresh ginger can turn mushy, soft, or moldy. If it does this, it is time to discard. Always make sure to inspect your ginger products before eating to make sure they are good to consume!