Chat Leftovers: Ginger for vampires

October 30, 2013

Do you know about search engine optimization? By using SEO-friendly words in Web site headlines, you can attract more people to click on your story. Words like “vampire,” for example, especially when we get close to Halloween. It worked on you just now, didn’t it? But this is no empty come-on; I’m about to reveal how you can store fresh ginger root so that, like Dracula, it will live forever. Or almost.

But more on that later! First, let’s explore what Food has to offer this week, starting with Emily Kaiser Thelin’s bittersweet story about Paula Wolfert, a noted cookbook author who at 75 is battling the cognitive decline that accompanies dementia. Bonnie S. Benwick welcomes London superstar chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi to the Washington Post kitchen and watches them cook. And David Hagedorn can’t resist buying the new Veg-O-Matic to see how it compares with the original model that nearly ruined his childhood. Will it slice and dice? Read and find out.

Emily and David will be the special guests for today’s Free Range chat, so, as usual, plan to be there too with your questions or comments. Or just lurk; we’re fine with that. But show up at noon and get ready for a scintillating hour. Here’s a great question we didn’t have time to answer during a previous chat:

I peel my ginger and store it refrigerated in sherry. A splash of the sherry usually goes into my stir-fry sauce. There have been questions the past couple of weeks about how to store unused ginger root, and none of the experts mentioned this as a possibility. I don’t remember where I read about handling it this way, but if you aren’t recommending it, is there potential danger? It certainly stays fragrant and crunchy. I have been doing it for years and we have not gotten sick.

If you’ve been doing it for years and haven’t gotten sick, then I think you have your answer.

But don’t take my word for it. Thankfully, the folks at Fine Cooking magazine have already helped us out. They refrigerated ginger root 10 ways to see which worked best. Six pieces of ginger were peeled and submerged in different liquids, and four were left unpeeled and stored in the vegetable drawer in different kinds of wrappings. An 11th contender was planted in soil. After eight weeks, the ginger was retrieved and compared.

Here’s some validation for you: Sherry was one of the liquids they experimented with, and it left the ginger in decent shape. However, compared with the rest of the pack, the sherry didn’t shine: “The clear winner was the ginger stored in vodka, which produced firm, crisp ginger that still had a strong flavor.” Down in the vegetable drawer, the best results came from just chucking the ginger directly into a zip-top bag.

The ginger buried in soil stayed fresh, but you wouldn’t want to have to dig yours up every time you wanted a piece.

You can read all the details about their experiment here.

I have a 12th recommendation. A few years ago I got ginger to root in a glass of water. It sent up pretty stalks and leaves that looked a lot like bamboo, and it also started growing new knobs that could be cut off and cooked with. I didn’t want to keep it going indefinitely (it got BIG) but it was a fun experiment, and as I said, the foliage is nice and kind of perked up the kitchen window sill. Here’s a blogpost I wrote a while after I tried it.

Also, a couple of the chatters had recommended freezing ginger and said it works beautifully.

As for you, though the vodka bath apparently is more effective, it seems like the sherry method still would suit you best. I just can’t imagine wanting to make stir-fries with ginger-flavored vodka.

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