Unless you use ginger on a regular basis, it can be difficult to use an entire “hand” before it starts to deteriorate. I have tried all kinds of methods for preserving the rhizomes with varying degrees of success. Freezing ginger whole then grating it destroys microplanes in short order, and I don’t care to treat them as disposable. Pickling and covering with some sort of alcohol work also, but I don’t necessarily want vinegar in my finished dish, not everyone drinks alcohol, and, true confession, my fridge is already full of bottles and jars. I have found that the best way to store ginger for all kinds of uses is to juice it and freeze it. Juicing and freezing will also preserve that wonderful bite that you only get with fresh ginger, something that seems to dissipate in other treatments.
I bought my juicer during a delusional period in which I was convinced we would be those people who juiced on a regular basis. A couple of hundred pounds of carrots later it turned out to be a phase, although one that was exceptionally high in beta carotene. Fortunately, there are many such delusions and phases in this world, so juicers, which have become quite expensive, are pretty easy to find at thrift stores or on Craigslist. Many times they will even let you plug it in to see if it works, and for just a few dollars, you’re off to the races.
I have a masticating juicer, but I think these instructions will work with the centrifugal appliances, too. Bring your ginger to room temperature and scrub off any adhering soil, taking care with the little outgrowths that inevitably overlap one another. Peeling is not necessary. The fibers run lengthwise in the rhizomes, and it is these strands that clog up your appliances, so slice the ginger thinly crosswise against the “grain.” Feed it all into the juicer fairly slowly, toss the fiber into the compost, and collect the spoils. Pour the slurry into ice cube trays, stirring to keep the solids suspended until it is all used up, and tuck the cubes in the freezer in a re-useable silicone bag or other cold-appropriate container.
My trays came from Ikea, and each divot holds just about a tablespoon each. The cubes can be cut into smaller portions if you only need a little for a recipe, but be sure to set your nice knives to the side and use a beater knife for the cutting. I’ve been using the liquid extraction in equivalent quantities to the minced amounts typically called for in a given recipe, but I really like ginger. Maybe back off a little at first, and add more as needed. You can let the cubes melt before using or just toss them directly into the pan (pickle jar, pitcher of lemonade, cocktail…) Easy peasy. The only caveat is that the trays will take on a gingery aroma, so you may need to purchase or set aside a few just for freezing flavorful items and keep them separate from those used for making ice.
I buy ginger about a half kilo at a time and juice it all in one go. In addition to the convenience, this method allows you to purchase the exceptionally beautiful specimens you see from time to time and store that gorgeous flavor for later. No more heading to the produce bin or the store to find molding or shriveled ginger, and no more Microplanes in the garbage bin. Your juicer can also be used for turmeric, which freezes just as nicely, although there will be a bit of sticky residue to scrub off the moving parts. If you aren’t into scrubbing, run some lemons through and make ginger turmeric lemonade. It’s lovely with the fresh produce.
Other items I’ve run through the juicer and frozen with success include the fleshy stems of herbs left over when a recipe calls for leaves. Toss a cube of dill extract along with the herb or seeds into a container of marinated beans, a dilled soup, or your next batch of pickles and punch it up to a new level. Basil works, too, as does parsley. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. And the water content of the produce. Juice on!