Q: I never seem to have fresh ginger when I need it. What is the best way to store a piece of fresh ginger for later use and how long will it last?
—Greg Griffith, Chicago
A: Ginger! I'm old enough to remember when ginger was a rarity found only in ethnic groceries. Now, fresh ginger seems to be sold in every supermarket. It's a great thing — ginger adds such an aromatic zing to stir-fries, soups, salad dressings and much, much more.
EDITORS NOTE: Do you have a question about cooking? Are you searching for a beloved recipe? Need to know how to store that rare ingredient? Tweet it to Bill Daley at @billdaley or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you could be featured in this column.
You can refrigerate unpeeled gingerroot, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 weeks, according to "The New Food Lover's Companion." You can freeze it for 6 months. To use the frozen root, the companion recommends slicing off an unthawed piece as big as you need and putting the remainder back in the freezer.
Peeled ginger should be placed in a lidded glass jar, covered with dry sherry or Madeira, and refrigerated for up to 3 months, the Companion notes, adding, "The wine will impart some of its flavor to the ginger – a minor disadvantage to weigh against having peeled ginger ready and waiting. On the plus side, the delicious ginger-flavored wine can be reused for cooking."
Another factor to consider: Buy only what you think you can reasonably use. That can be a challenge if all you find in the produce bin are roots as big as antlers. What I do — and this may violate all rules of ginger etiquette — is simply snap off a piece roughly the size I want. I feel funny about this at times but no one has ever said anything about it so far, nor have I ever seen a "don't break up the ginger" sign posted. If anyone has a definitive answer on this, I'd appreciate hearing it.
I'd also love to receive food and drink questions from anyone, friend or no. Please send them on!
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: email@example.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.