Ginger is a well-known root served fresh, dried, pickled, candied or powdered. It adds flavor to dishes such as stir-fry or fruit or vegetable entrees, is used in soups and salads, eaten as a palate cleanser or grated into a salad dressing. It may also be used in morning cereal, oatmeal or to flavor smoothies or muffins. It is readily available year round at most supermarkets. When selecting ginger, look for firm pieces that are free of mold. The ginger can last in the refrigerator up to three weeks unpeeled. The ginger peel is completely safe to eat and in many circumstances, the ginger peel may be left on and eaten.
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More than just a flavor additive, ginger has many positive health attributes. It has proven to help subdue nausea caused by pregnancy or seasickness and can help the body's response to inflammation and promote a healthy immune system. And according to the University of Minnesota Hormel, taking ginger may help fight colorectal cancer cells in the body.
The ginger peel thickens over time. If ginger is picked early and eaten soon after purchasing, the peel is thin enough to eat. Young ginger isn't available at most supermarkets, but is readily available at Asian markets. Mature ginger may be edible as well, but you should try a small piece of the ginger with the peel attached to test the peel for bitterness before using it in a dish.
The removal of the ginger peel often depends on the purpose or use of the ginger root. If the ginger is being used in a tea, to flavor drinks or tonics, added to a marinade, or in a smoothie, it doesn't need to be peeled. If the ginger is being eaten as an essential element of the dish, it should be peeled, especially if the peel is thick.
Peeling ginger can remove more than just the outer skin. A large vegetable peeler will take much of the tender ginger flesh off with the skin. To peel more selectively, use a spoon to gently remove the peel. Scrape the skin lightly until it only the peel comes off. A spoon's rounded shape will get into the nooks and crannies better than a peeler and will preserve more of the flesh for cooking.