Ginger is an essential spice. Not only does it add a burst of flavor to any food item it is a part of, but it’s also linked to numerous health benefits. But does ginger go bad? If so, how do you store it to extend its life and ensure it serves its purpose optimally? Read on!
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Does Ginger Go Bad?
Unfortunately yes. Like most spices, ginger will go bad or lose its flavor after some time. However, how long it takes before this happens depends on how you store your ginger. For example, ginger stored at room temperature will have a different shelf life than one stored in the fridge.
The kind of ginger being stored also matters. Raw ginger will tend to go bad much faster than its crystalized or ground counterpart. Regardless, if your ginger is stored properly, it will stay good, longer.
How Long Does Ginger Last?
As stated, different forms of ginger will have different shelf life spans based on how you store them. Powdered ginger is the most long-lasting. Because it is dry, it can easily last a few months or even up to a year past the ‘best-by’ date. However, the place you store it must also be dry and away from heat.
Note that unopened ginger products, in any form, will last longer than opened ginger. If stored properly in the refrigerator, unopened products can be used up until the date given on the package. But some products may not contain this date. If that’s the case, do not use them past one year.
Storing your ginger in the refrigerator gives it a longer lifespan than when stored in the pantry. For instance, raw ginger root will start to get soggy and moldy in about seven days if stored at room temperature. When put in the freezer, that same ginger can stay fresh for up to six months.
It’s worth noting that chopped ginger will not last as long as whole ginger, and larger chunks of ginger will have a longer lifespan than smaller pieces.
Here is a table that summarizes the lifespan of ginger in different forms and storage environments.
|Ground ginger||2 to 3 years||N/A||N/A|
|Crystalized ginger||1 ½ to 2 years||N/A||N/A|
|Canned ginger||N/A||2 to 3 months||N/A|
|Peeled sliced ginger||N/A||1 to 2 weeks||N/A|
|Ginger paste||N/A||1 month||3 to 4 months|
|Raw ginger root||1 week||1 month||2 to 6 months|
4 Tips to Tell If Ginger Has Gone Bad
1. Lost Flavor
While storing powdered ginger properly can help extend its shelf life, over time, the product inevitably loses some of its flavor.
If you have had your ginger sitting in the pantry for a while and aren’t sure if it is good to use, rub a pinch of it with your fingers. If it still has its original smell, you can go ahead and use it. If not, chances are it has lost its potency and you will be better off opening a new package.
Fresh Ginger Root
2. Mold Spots
This is perhaps the easiest way to tell whether your raw ginger has gone bad. If you see mold developing on your ginger, it is a sign that the piece has gone bad. Mold causes ginger not only to lose its nutritional value but also to become rotten quickly. It’s best to get rid of such ginger to avoid food poisoning.
3. Foul Smell
Looks can be deceiving. Sometimes the skin of your ginger root will appear perfectly normal while the inside is rotten. If you are not sure whether your ginger is flesh inside, cut a piece from it and smell it. Typically, ginger that has gone bad will not be as aromatic as fresh ginger and will likely emit an unpleasant odor.
4. A Weirdly Soft or Mushy Texture
Fresh ginger root is somehow firm to touch. If yours feels soft or mushy, that’s an indication that you should let go. The same case applies to ginger whose skin has started to turn greyish or dark yellow instead of the normal bright yellow.
Keep in mind, however, that on its way to losing its firmness, the skin of ginger will appear slightly wrinkled. But this doesn’t mean all is lost; you can use the ginger if the flavor is still intact.
For more tips on how to identify bad ginger, watch this video:
4 Tips to Store Ginger
How to store your ginger will largely depend on the type of ginger you have. Here are quick tips for storing ginger in different forms.
1. Put It in a Cool, Dry Pantry
Dried or ground ginger can be stored the same way other spices like chili, garlic, or cinnamon powder are stored. The pantry or a drawer in the kitchen would be the perfect spot. Just make sure it is dry and away from the stove or direct sunlight.
Also, after you have opened the package, ensure it is tightly sealed before putting it back into storage. If the powder comes in paper packaging that cannot be resealed, consider transferring it into a resealable bag or glass jar. It will help preserve its flavor and extend its shelf life.
Fresh Raw Ginger
When it comes to storing fresh ginger root, the first question you should ask yourself is – how fast do I intend to use it? Here are some options:
2. Keep it Out
Ginger can sit out for up to a week without going bad. If you are going to use a piece later today or in a few days, you can store the fresh root in the pantry or let it sit out on the kitchen counter for a few days. For best results, make sure to keep its skin intact, and only peel it when using the ginger.
If it takes you a little longer to use a piece of ginger, store it in the refrigerator, skin on. In here, it can last for up to a month and even longer if it is in a zip-top bag. The same goes for a cut piece of ginger; just put it in an airtight bag and refrigerate.
4. Submerge It in Alcohol
Dipping ginger in vodka, vinegar, sherry, or other acids/clear spirits of some kind may seem a bit unorthodox, but this is one of the most effective ways to keep your raw root fresh, longer. Ginger stored this way can last up to three months in the fridge while maintaining its original potency.
To use this method, simply get a small, sealable glass jar and put the ginger inside. Pour your acid or spirit of choice into the container until the ginger is completely covered. Replace and tighten the lid, then store the ginger in the refrigerator.
Before using pieces of ginger stored this way, be sure to rinse and dry them well. It will keep you from transferring the flavors of the acids to your recipe.
To learn more about storing ginger, check out this video:
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Ginger
According to Healthline, it is still generally safe to consume ground or dried spices and herbs that are past their ‘best-by’ date. However, such products will not add as much flavor to the food item they are a part of as their fresh counterparts.
Also, when it comes to raw ginger, you can still consume the root if the rot is only in a small area. Simply cut the bad section away and if the rest of the ginger appears to be okay and hasn’t lost its flavor, you can go ahead and use it.
Some experts, however, have argued that moldy or rotten ginger produces small amounts of safrole that can be toxic. So, if you’re in doubt, consider getting a fresh piece.
Can You Freeze Ginger?
Yes, if you want your ginger to stay fresh for an exceptionally longer period, simply store it in the freezer. But this only applies to raw ginger. Powdered ginger should not be stored in the freezer or any other place where it’s likely to absorb moisture.
There are several ways to properly store ginger in the freezer:
- Wrapping unpeeled ginger in plastic paper then placing it in a sealable zipper bag
- Mincing ginger and storing it in small portions in airtight containers
- Chopping up unpeeled ginger and placing it in an airtight bag or container.
When frozen, raw ginger can maintain its flavor and freshness for up to six months. However, it’s worth noting that, as with most veggies, frozen ginger will get soggy after thawing. For this reason, frozen ginger is best used with smoothies or dishes that cook through.
Without proper storage, ginger (whether in raw or ground form) will go bad quickly. Store powdered ginger in a cool, dry pantry away from moisture, stove heat, and direct sunlight. For fresh ginger root, consider refrigerating or freezing. Just make sure to keep the skin on. It’ll help lock in the flavor.