Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes and for cooking since ancient times. In cooking, it’s used worldwide, however, it’s especially popular in Asian cuisines.
If you’re a fan of ginger, chances are that you have a slab of it hanging around your kitchen and since ginger is so potent, you likely only use little bits of it at a time.
This leads to the question of whether or not ginger goes bad. How long does it last? What are the signs that it’s spoiled? How do you store it?
Read on for the answer to these questions and more.
Does Ginger Go Bad?
Ginger is a root spice, and like other root vegetables, it can go bad.
When it does, its flavor changes, as does its texture. It also becomes unsafe to eat, as it quickly begins to rot once it hits its maximum shelf life.
There can be few things more unappetizing than rotten ginger!
How Long Does Ginger Last?
Unfortunately, this question isn’t as simple as you’d hope – and that’s because ginger lasts for different lengths of time based on the form it’s in.
Ginger can be kept in various forms including grated, fresh, minced, powdered, paste, and chopped. Each one has a slightly different shelf life.
Generally, the shelf life of all forms range from 1 week to 1-2 years. Whether the ginger is refrigerated or not affects how long many of the various forms of ginger remain healthy and safe to use.
On the small end of the expansive timeframe that we gave you, you have chopped ginger root and unpeeled fresh ginger that isn’t refrigerated, as well as grated ginger that is refrigerated. These last roughly a week.
At two and three weeks, you have chopped ginger root that’s refrigerated and unpeeled fresh ginger kept in the fridge. Refrigerated ginger paste can last for up to a month, while frozen ginger paste can last up to 6 months.
Lastly, ground ginger that can be purchased in little spice bags and stored in the kitchen pantry lasts for 1 to 2 years.
|Form and Storage||Shelf Life|
|Chopped Ginger Root, Unrefrigerated||Up to 1 week|
|Grated Ginger, Refrigerated||Up to 1 week|
|Unpeeled Fresh Ginger, Unrefrigerated||Up to 1 week|
|Chopped Ginger Root, Refrigerated||2-3 weeks|
|Unpeeled Fresh Ginger, Refrigerated||2-3 weeks|
|Ginger Paste, Refrigerated||Up to 1 month|
|Ginger Paste, Frozen||Up to 6 months|
|Peeled Ginger, Frozen||Up to 6 months|
|Ground Ginger, in Pantry||1-2 years|
How To Tell If Ginger Has Gone Bad
Luckily, it’s fairly easy to tell if your ginger has gone bad. Fresh ginger typically appears to look healthy and slightly gnarled. It’s flesh will be firm and bright yellow beneath the skin. When you cut into fresh ginger, it will have a strong, spicy aroma.
When it begins to spoil, its color and texture will change. The flesh of spoiled ginger is pale or grayish in tone, and will become soft. Its skin may also start to wrinkle. The longer bad ginger sits, the more its color fades and the softer its flesh gets. When both a gray flesh and soft texture are noticeable, your ginger is unsafe to use.
In addition, if your ginger has started to develop mold, you should discard it immediately. Don’t try to cut the mold off and use the rest of the ginger. Mold spores are often too small to see with the human eye and can hide beneath the skin and within the flesh of food that looks perfectly fine.
However, if your ginger is slightly wrinkly but smells and tastes normal, then it is probably safe to consume.
Commercial ginger products such as jars of grated or cubed ginger will generally turn moldy. They may also start to lose their coloration when they go bad, but since they are free of their skins, there will be no sign of wrinkling.
In any case, ginger that has started to lose its smell is likely bad. You’ll know that this is the case when the ginger begins to smell sour or like rotten vegetables.
How To Store Ginger
Regardless of what form your ginger is in, the best place to store it is usually in the refrigerator. This is because the cold temperature helps to preserve the food. However, you can also store it on the counter under certain conditions.
Fresh In the Fridge
Cover your fresh ginger in plastic wrap or seal it in an air-tight container or plastic bag.
Then, place it in the drawer of the refrigerator. It’s best not to peel it when you’re planning to store it for longer than a few days.
Picking fresh ginger is another great way to store it.
Start by peeling the ginger and slicing it thinly. Place the thinly sliced ginger into a glass jar that has been filled with equal parts water, vinegar, and sugar. You can adjust this mixture to suit your unique taste.
Be sure to screw the lid on tightly and keep your pickled ginger on the main shelf in the refrigerator instead of in the door.
On the Counter
If you plan on using your ginger within a few days, you may be able to get away with leaving it on the counter.
However, if you live in a warm location and your kitchen is warm enough to induce sweating, you may want to rethink this storage space.
When storing your ginger on the counter, try to keep it in a cool, dark location. If this isn’t your counter, it may be inside your pantry or in the basement.
Can You Freeze Ginger?
There are two ways to freeze ginger for later use. One common way to do this is to use alcohol. That’s right – all you have to do is pop your fresh ginger into a container or bottle of your favorite spirits before putting it in the freezer.
The alcohol content in the liquor will preserve it, while also ensuring that your ginger doesn’t turn into a ginger-flavored popsicle that’s hard to work with.
The benefits of using alcohol, of course, are that you end up with ginger-infused alcohol that can be used to make cocktails as well as the fact that your ginger will retain its moisture content the entire time it’s in the freezer.
The other method for freezing ginger is ideal for anyone who doesn’t drink or doesn’t like the idea of storing their ginger in alcohol.
Simply peel your raw ginger, wrap it in plastic wrap, and seal it in an airtight container that’s safe for use in the freezer.
We’d avoid using glass containers for this. You could also store your plastic-wrapped ginger in a plastic freezer bag that’s had the air sucked out of it or been sealed with a commercial bag sealer.
Uses for Leftover Ginger
Leftover ginger can be used in a number of ways. Here are our favorites:
Ginger syrup is an economic way to save your leftover ginger from going bad. Ginger syrup can be used for a variety of purposes and is simple to make.
Basically, ginger syrup is a mixture of ginger, sugar, and water, and when it’s complete, it comes out sweet and spicy.
When you have leftover ginger that you aren’t sure what to do with and you happen to be a tea-lover, why not make homemade ginger tea?
There are tons of great recipes online and ginger tea comes with a host of health benefits including inflammation reduction, nausea relief, and weight management.
Ginger can do wonders to spice up your protein. Use leftover ginger to make a marinade for lean protein like chicken and turkey.
Just grate some of your leftover fresh ginger and mix it with thyme, cloves, pepper, salt, and teriyaki sauce; then, place your protein and homemade marinade in a sealed container or plastic bag and shake it all up.
Let the marinade sit for 45 minutes to an hour before cooking your protein.
Ginger can be used for more than just stir fry.
As it turns out, ginger goes well when used in sweet treats, too. Use leftover ginger to make gingersnap cookies, ginger loaf, cheesecake, and sweet sauces that can be used as glazes on other sweets.
If you’ve never tried a spicy ginger soup, there’s no better time to try it than when you have ginger that’s about to expire.
There are tons of soup recipes that contain ginger as a flavoring ingredient. Try this simple carrot and ginger soup for a delicious winter warmer.
The best part about ginger as a soup ingredient is that it’s easy to adjust the amount used to suit your tastes.