A Grate Idea?

Most of the blogs I follow are somewhat more specialised (or, you might say, rather less eclectic — or perhaps just less random) than my own.  Amongst them are a couple of food blogs which I keep an eye on largely for the occasional handy cooking tip I can glean from them.

In the last few months one of these blogs, theKitchn, has yielded a couple of useful tips relating to one of my favourite spices – ginger.  More specifically, they are about the preparation and storage of the fresh root.

The first tip, which I picked up some time last year, is a method for peeling ginger.  Rather than use a knife or a vegetable peeler, which are both (especially the knife) prone to removing (and thus wasting) quite a bit of good ginger flesh in addition to the skin, the blog suggested using the edge of a teaspoon.  This gently scrapes the skin off, leaving the useable part of the ginger ready for action.  Unfortunately I have lost the link to the post that suggested this, but I have found it to work pretty well.  I haven’t tried using a teaspoon to peel other vegetables, but I find a knife or peeler to be perfectly satisfactory for most of them in any case.

The second tip, from LA-based food writer Emily Ho, turned up a couple of months ago in this post.  In it, she tackles the problem of saving fresh ginger in good condition for long enough to use it all (assuming you buy it in fairly large chunks and don’t use it that quickly), as well as ensuring that you can always have fresh ginger to hand.  The idea is simply to freeze it in suitable-sized portions for subsequent use.  I know that technically makes it frozen, rather than fresh, ginger but it seems to work just as well.

Emily suggests peeling the ginger first (she doesn’t say whether or not she uses a teaspoon — it’s possible that the other tip was hers too) and then grating it before freezing.  When I tried that, I found that the grated ginger seemed to come out a bit mushy so I did an experiment by grating half of the ginger and finely chopping the other half, much as I would usually prepare it directly for cooking.  I put individual portions of chopped/grated ginger (roughly a teaspoon’s worth, though I didn’t measure them carefully) in an ice-cube tray that I’d rescued from an old freezer a few years ago and then shoved the tray in the freezer.

That was a few weeks ago and I’ve been fairly steadily working my way through the frozen ginger ever since.  I’ve used some in stir fries and some for spicing up the honey and lemon concoction I brewed up last week when I had a cold.  For both of those purposes it has worked fine to lob the frozen ginger in directly to the pan.  I can’t think of anything I would normally cook with ginger that would need it to be defrosted first.  There doesn’t seem to be any practical difference between the ginger that was chopped and that which was grated, although I definitely prefer the preparation by chopping so I’ll probably continue to use that method in future.

Having looked back at the original article (which I didn’t consult immediately before trying the idea for myself), I noticed that Emily Ho actually suggested putting the individual dollops of grated ginger onto a parchment-lined baking tray, sticking that in the freezer until frozen and then transferring the ginger to an airtight box and putting it back in the freezer.  I’m sure that way would work very well in the absence of a handy ice-cube tray, and would certainly be better than trying to individually bag up each portion, but I’ve found my approach to work quite well for me, so I think I’ll stick to it.

Now that summer is approaching I may get an opportunity to try out using some lumps of frozen ginger in lieu of ice cubes.  They might work especially well in a Moscow mule, in the unlikely event that I get round to making any of those this year.

Deep-frozen Doughnuts

I recently discovered that doughnuts can successfully be frozen and then quickly reheated in a microwave.  This is definitely a good thing, as I enjoy eating doughnuts and my local supermarket usually has them on an offer whereby it’s cheaper to buy two packs at once but, much as I like to save a bit of money that way, I find that eating 10 doughnuts before they start to go stale is a bit more than I really want (and certainly more than I need).  Being able to freeze some of them means that I can still benefit from the discount but spread the joy over several days or weeks.  Also, it means that I have a tasty (if not particularly nutritious) snack on hand when I want it.

In my microwave, it only takes about 20 or 30 seconds to warm up a frozen doughnut straight out of the freezer.  Presumably that’s due to the high sugar content.  The slightly warm doughnuts are perhaps even nicer than the room-temperature ones eaten on the day of purchase.  I haven’t yet tried warming non-frozen doughnuts or letting defrosted ones cool down before eating them.  Also, my freezing experiments so far have been confined to apple and custard doughnuts.  As a self-respecting scientist, of course, I definitely need to do lots more experiments with a range of different doughnuts and conditions. 🙂