We love cooking with fresh ginger and decided to experiment growing it. Ginger grows best in hot, tropical climates with a long growing season like Hawaii. We ran across a source, East Branch Ginger, that sells ginger seed stock for growing “baby ginger” in more temperate climates. The website includes information about presprouting, planting, watering, hilling, and harvesting the ginger.
Most ginger sold in grocery stores cannot be used as seed ginger for growing your own. It has been heat treated to prevent it from sprouting. It is possible you may find some untreated ginger in Asian markets. It takes about 4 weeks to know whether or not it will sprout.
Don’t wait until spring to order. It can take several weeks to ship and the ginger needs to presprout in a warm room (light not important) for about 6 weeks before the outside soil warms to 60°. The ginger we planted is a variety called the “Big Kahuna.” It was the only one available when we ordered it.
Baby ginger is harvested before the tough, woody, peel develops. The flesh is more tender and less woody, but has a good, strong ginger flavor. We grew ours in large, nursery pots and harvested most of them yesterday. We dug up one pot earlier and have been using it.
To harvest, we emptied the plant and dirt from the pot into a large wheel barrow. The ginger was then carefully removed from the packed dirt and the long roots were removed from the ginger.
Without the tough outer peel, storing it for very long can be a problem. With the ginger we dug earlier, we have experimented with storing it in Everclear alcohol (195 proof ethanol), vodka, and salt water. We have kept it refrigerated for months with minimal flavor loss. I don’t know how well the ginger would keep outside of the refrigerator. Most of this batch will be washed, sliced, and stored in Everclear ethanol alcohol because we believe it is the better preservative. There is no need to peel the young ginger.
My husband is also in the process of making candied ginger, and grated ginger to freeze in ice cube trays. He ground some ginger in the food processor to mix in olive oil to freeze as a paste.
We have found the ginger stored in vodka and Everclear to be very easy to use and tastes good in all our recipes. The ginger softens some in the alcohol which makes it easy to dice and is tender to eat. The ginger flavor is good and similar to fresh.
Even if you don’t grow your own ginger, slicing and keeping store-bought ginger in alcohol in the refrigerator is a good way to keep a large piece of ginger from drying out or spoiling.
We brought one pot of ginger into the house in front of a large, sunny window to grow over the winter along with our aloe plant and a pot of basil.
Here is a good article, “The Five Ways to Get The Best Out of Ginger.”