One thing all my friends know about me is that I'm a huge klutz. If an opportunity to unintentionally hurt myself presents itself, I will almost always unwittingly take it. Since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for work—around sharp objects and hot things—accidents happen more often than I care to admit, especially when it comes to something like peeling and cutting ginger, an ingredient that's infamously hard to prep.
You see, fresh ginger root is knobby and unruly, and it slips and slides so much I usually end up peeling off more of myself than it during prep time. I've always used a vegetable peeler or a knife to get the job done, but have found neither method to be very satisfactory. Using a knife allows me more control so I'm less likely to hurt myself, but it also removes way more of the ginger than just the peel, and I'd rather not create food waste if I can avoid it. A vegetable peeler removes only the peel, but it's harder to control and almost always leaves me searching for a bandaid.
Since I haven't been able to find a method that really works on my own, I reached out to Sommer Collier, creator of the food blog A Spicy Perspective, for her tips and tricks. She told me that the best tool to peel ginger with might just be hiding in your silverware drawer—and there's no chance that you'll injure yourself using it. Plus: the best way to cut up the ingredient so you put it to work in your food.
A spoon is the only tool you need to peel ginger.
It's true—a spoon is all you need to safely and efficiently peel ginger. "The curved edge of a spoon is the perfect tool to get the skin off in the areas with tight crevices," Collier explains. "You can dig in the nooks and crannies with the tip of the spoon to lift the skin with no fear of slipping and cutting yourself."
Just to make sure that this method wasn't too good to be true, I tested it out myself, and I pitted it against my usual two methods (knife and vegetable peeler) to see if it was really the better one.
To do it, I held the spoon so that the inside of the spoon was facing down and used the tip to remove the peel. The only downside of the spoon method was that it took a bit longer to execute than I'd expected. On the upside, it only removed skin of the ginger, so there was no waste, and at no point did I accidentally cut myself while using it (see above left). Using the knife took the least amount of time, but again it took off way more of the ginger than I was comfortable with—I had to throw so much away (see above middle). Finally, the vegetable peeler took just as long as the spoon, and it didn't leave me with much wasted ginger, but I wasn't able to use it to successfully peel the crevices (see above right).
So, yes, using the tip of the spoon was definitely the right call. With its help, I was able to entirely remove the skin from the ginger, even in the tiniest, hardest-to-reach spots, and I didn't come close to injuring myself. It'll be the only method I use going forward.
Now, onto cutting ginger—should you use a microplane, a garlic press, or a knife?
A microplane is the short answer. It's what Collier recommended, and what I've always found to be the easiest and fastest way to grate ginger finely enough that it gets well incorporated into whatever I'm cooking.
That being said, using a knife to chop ginger also has its merits. Grating the ginger turns it into a what's essentially a paste, which is great to use in things like stir-fries or soups where you don't necessarily want big chunks of ginger. However, if you do want big chunks of ginger in whatever you're making—like a salad dressing or in a ginger muffin—you can cut it up with a chef's knife the way you would garlic until it reaches your desired size.
The garlic press was the only one of these three methods that didn't work at all. Rather than crushing the ginger into small bits like it does with garlic, the garlic press squeezed all the juice out of the ginger and nothing else. When I opened it up to take a look at what had gone wrong, the ginger flesh was still in there and squeezed dry—basically, it wasn't usable.
Now that you know how to prep your ginger, use it in these recipes.
Cranberry-Ginger Overnight Oats
This warming bowl of oatmeal tastes like Thanksgiving in a bowl, and it's amazing any time of the year. Get the recipe here.
Kale, Tempeh, and Sweet Potato Salad With Almond Ginger Dressing
You'll want to put this spicy, nutty salad dressing on everything. Get the recipe here.
Chicken Soup With Caramelized Ginger
There's nothing more soothing than a bowl of chicken soup infused with ginger. Get the recipe here.