How to Peel, Chop, and Grate Ginger

Ah ginger, my favorite wonder food. Add a little to honey and lemon tea to help fight a cold. Use it to spice up a stir fry. Make the most amazing gingerbread by including some grated fresh ginger in the batter. Or if you happen to have a lot of ginger to use up, you can candy it. Here’s a little tip that you may or may not know about ginger: it is very helpful for nausea. It is the only thing (and believe me, I’ve tried everything) that helps me with sea sickness. Pregnant women I have known swear by it. The root itself is rather gnarly, and can be a little bit challenging to peel and cut, so I’ve put together a quick how-to, starting with a short video of my preferred way to peel ginger, with a spoon!

How to Peel, Chop, and Grate Ginger

Do you need to peel ginger? Not really, but you may want to for aesthetic reasons. I like peeling ginger with the edge of a spoon. Young ginger has such thin skin, you don't need to peel it at all. Older ginger, like what we typically find in the grocery store, has more papery skin that you may want to peel. If your ginger has been hanging around for a while and is a little shriveled, it won't peel easily with a spoon. You'll need a paring knife to cut away the peel.

Ingredients

  • One firm, fresh piece of ginger root

Method

Peeling Ginger with a Spoon

how-to-peel-ginger-1 how-to-peel-ginger-2 how-to-peel-ginger-3 how-to-peel-ginger-4

Hold a piece of ginger root firmly in one hand and the bowl of a metal spoon firmly in the other hand. (Note that you can also just break a lobe off of the ginger and peel only that.) Scrape the edge of the spoon against the ginger to peel off the skin. Work your way around the ginger root, peeling only as much as you think you will use. (The ginger will last longer if it is stored with the peel on.)

 

Slicing and Cutting Ginger in Matchsticks (Julienne)

1 Ginger is quite fibrous. The fibers are in the direction of the root of the ginger and its lobes. Slice the peeled area of the ginger root, across the grain of the fibers, into coins. (Use the coins to make candied ginger!)

how-to-chop-ginger-1 how-to-chop-ginger-2

2 If your recipe calls for slivers of ginger or julienned ginger, stack two or three "coins" of the ginger at a time and cut them into matchsticks.

 

Chopping or Mincing Ginger

how-to-chop-ginger-3

If your recipe calls for chopped or minced ginger, line up the ginger matchsticks cut in the previous step and make crosswise cuts.

 

Grating Ginger

how-to-grate-ginger-1

The easiest way to grate ginger is to keep a knob of ginger wrapped in plastic in your freezer. When you need some grated ginger, pull it out of the freezer, scrape away the peel (if you want, it's not really necessary) of the area you want to grate, and grate the ginger with a microplane grater. Like we do when we slice ginger, grate across the grain of the fibers of the ginger.

Links:

Candied Ginger Recipe - from the master of sweets, David Lebovitz

34 Comments

  1. Sheeijan

    When I first started out cooking, I had no idea how to grate ginger. I tried to put it through a garlic press. That didn’t work too well! The spoon is a clever little trick for peeling! Will definitely have to try that out.

  2. Donald

    Love the spoon trick. I don’t want to guess how much ginger I have wasted over the years because I just chopped all the appendages off.

  3. Amanda

    I literally told myself the other day that I need to look up how to easily peel ginger – especially with all the nooks and crannies sometimes. Plus, I was grating some ginger this evening & noticed how much was being wasted.
    This is very helpful & came at a perfect time! Thanks :)

  4. Lisa

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I always carry candied ginger when I fly – turbulence makes me nauseous, and ginger is the best remedy.

  5. Deb

    Elise, thank you so much for this post! I’ve never known how to harvest ginger. Last evening I ran across a new-to-me recipe for Ginger Bacon Coleslaw which calls for a few tablespoons of grated ginger. Now…I’m all set after reading your instructions! Thanks!

  6. randi in canada

    You are so right. Ginger is wonderful for nausea. In Canada, our version of Dramamine is called Gravol and they have a Ginger version which is a miracle drug for me. I love ginger in chicken soup too. It’s like double the help when you are sick.

  7. Anna H.

    Next time I need to peel ginger I’ll try the spoon method–thanks, Elise! I’ve been using a paring knife, carefully, but a spoon seems easier.

    I usually use my garlic press to process fresh ginger for marinades and sauces and things like that (my main uses for ginger). It more “juices” the pieces than anything else, which is perfect for my purposes, but you get some finely minced/mashed solids as well, and none of the fibers. I have a pretty hefty garlic press, though, with teeth on the presser surface that fit through the holes. I can’t imagine the technique working with a cheapo press.

  8. Louisa Bosco

    I go through tons of ginger…so I grate a whole bulb and place the grated ginger on a foot long piece of plastic wrap….in a long line…then roll it like a cigar and freeze it….when you need some, just break off a few inches…

  9. margaret mc farland

    I drop my peeled ginger “coins” in a small jar of rice wine vinegar. It lasts indefinitely & is so handy. The vinegar is not too strong for ginger and it tastes fresh.

  10. Tina

    I store my peeled ginger coins in a jar filled with vodka and store it in the fridge. The vodka imparts no flavor and it will keep indefinitely. You can also use the vodka to cook with once the ginger flavor has been infused, for that extra ginger flavor boost.

    • Sue

      I also store peeled ginger chunks in vodka, but no need to use valuable fridge space, it keeps just as well in the pantry. I also use the peelings – either freeze them until I have enough to make ginger syrup or cordial, or dry them then grind with sugar for “ginger bark” powder. No waste here!

  11. Marion Olson

    I have always used ginger in Asian cooking, and the spoon-peeler trick is fantastic – I can’t imagine how much I used to waster before I tried that. But my favorite ginger tool is a little ceramic ginger grater I got a Cost Plus in San Francisco, back sometime when the earth was cooling. It’s a shallow saucer thing with sharp little nubs in it that you simply rub the cut end of a ginger root on. instead of getting shavings, like you do with a piece of frozen ginger on a microplane, you get a lot of juice along with soft fibrous stuff that blends into whatever you’re making. I think the juice provides a lot more flavor than just the chopped ginger does.

  12. Bacon Brown

    I love ginger. I use it so often in cooking, and I can back up the spoon idea it works great. The other thing I do is use a microplane to great it directly into my dishes I find it much faster and you don’t get the solid pieces of ginger (which you don’t want in some dishes). Often I don’t even peel it before grating.

  13. Jenni

    This is so helpful! I made a recipe with ginger the other day and I could not mince it finely enough because of the fibers which meant too much gingeriness in certain bites. Must try the matchstick technique next time.

  14. Steven Hall

    “Like we do when we slice ginger, grate against the grain of the fibers of the ginger.”

    I’d actually say perpendicular or across the grain rather than “against”. Woodworkers use three phrases relating to the fibrous grain of wood: “with the grain”, “against the grain” and “across the grain” and I think they apply here.

    When using a hand plane on wood we can apply the analogy of a cat. “With the grain” is running your hand along the fur head to tail, “against the grain” is from tail to head and “across the grain” causes the analogy to break down and likely to get you clawed by the cat.

  15. eveline shanthini

    Hi

    Could someone tell me how to make ginger in juice form and how to preserve it without any artificial preservatives. By the way, ginger juice taken with a tsp of honey and 1/2 tsp lime juice is very good for flatulence, and digestive problems

  16. Jeff

    Just an FYI: Grating ginger while frozen is a great idea just remember that frozen ginger (or anything else) will reduce the life of your grater. I used to grate or shred frozen butter into my biscuit dough but found that while it worked very well in the biscuits it was hard on my grater. Love your hints and advice!

  17. mark filip

    I buy several “straighter” pieces at my local Asian store, peel them and cut them into 1 inch pieces with some occasional smaller pieces for small amounts. Then I use my vacuum sealer to seal about 10-15 pieces per bag (flattened out). When I’m ready to use some, I grab a bag and get out only what I need and place in my mini food processor.
    It makes a heck of a noise but in about 15 seconds I have powdery consistency ginger which works very well for any stir-fry recipe and/or most recipes that call for minced/diced or shredded ginger.
    I do the exact same thing for garlic. My local asian store sells it in bulk, already peeled, packaged. It’s very convenient and ready to go when I need it.

  18. Steven

    Rather than worrying much about scraps, I use the trimmings in tea/stock where the fibre doesn’t matter. In that, nothing is wasted.

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong