I am a huge fan of ginger. Whether in savoury soups or stews or sweet desserts, adding oomph to sauces or spice to bakes, ginger is one of those kitchen staples I turn to again and again. If I’m not feeling well, ginger settles my stomach and clears my sinuses. At the end of a heavy meal, a small slice of candied ginger with a square of dark chocolate is all the dessert I need. A drizzle of ginger syrup makes morning yogurt feel like a special occasion, and sliced ginger in my beef stew takes it to a whole new place.
But there are some downsides. Ginger is a pain to peel. I know a lot of people swear by the “scraping with a spoon” trick, but partially peeled ginger is a slippery thing, and often mine ends up on the floor. (The five-second rule is gospel at our house.) The fibrous nature of the root can often leave an unpleasant grittiness or stringiness in finished dishes. Also, it’s hard to look cool when attempting to pick ginger threads out of your teeth. I often am guilty of over-buying, leaving me with hands of ginger that start to shrivel and dry out.
But never fear, there is a great way to bring tons of ginger flavour to the party while mitigating all of these problems: Ginger juice.
All of the flavour in the ginger is in the liquid. The fibre is just that— fibre— and essentially flavourless. So, by making ginger juice, you can add ginger’s punch to anything easily, without all the hassle. And, even better, you don’t have to peel it.
The process is simple. Just cut your fresh ginger (or ginger that is starting to get a bit old) into one-inch chunks, pop in your food processor, and pulse until you get a fine paste. Scrape the paste out into a sieve over a bowl and press to remove the juice. You can also squeeze out the juice by hand using a kitchen towel. The juice can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. I store mine in glass jars or bottles for ease of use. And the easiest part is that you use it as a 1-to-1 replacement in recipes, so if the recipe calls for one tablespoon of grated ginger, you use one tablespoon of ginger juice.
Once you have the juice on hand, you’ll find a ton of ways to use it. A splash in your tea is bracing, and if you aren’t feeling well, pair it with lemon and honey. Add equal parts by volume of sugar and boil long enough for the sugar to fully dissolve to make a ginger syrup that is a great ingredient in cocktails, or a soak for gingerbread or spice cake. A splash in a sauce or salad dressing adds instant pop. I stir it into bottled barbecue sauce for that little bit of extra flavour.
A few drops can take your cream cheese frosting into a place that will make your carrot cake sit up and sing. And as we head into summer and jam season, a splash in your homemade preserves will be a welcome bit of balance for the fruit’s sweetness. Ginger-enhanced lemonade is a great warm weather refresher, and a topping of sour cream, brown sugar, and ginger juice will make any fresh fruit into a perfect dessert. Stir a tablespoon into a cup of water and pour into your ice cube tray to make ginger cubes for iced tea or cocktails.
If you are a ginger lover, this will become your new favourite trick, and if you have always been intimidated by ginger, this is the perfect way to start exploring. If you happen to have a juicer, you should feel free to just process the ginger according to your machine directions.