Fresh ginger root, for centuries an essential ingredient in Asian recipes, has more recently found its way into Western kitchens. Formerly available only in Asian markets, this rhizome (a creeping stem that lies under the surface of the soil) today may be purchased in most supermarket produce sections.
The longer the growing period, the more fibrous ginger becomes. Except for very young ginger, which is cream-colored with pink-tipped shoots, it's difficult to determine age without cutting into the root. Because ginger may be polished before it's marketed, a sheen of the light brown skin is not a reliable indicator of freshness.
When choosing fresh ginger root, look instead for hard rhizomes that snap easily into pieces. Avoid dry, shriveled stems that feel light in weight for their size.
Fresh ginger root should be stored in a refrigerator crisper in a plastic bag containing a paper towel to absorb moisture. Change the towel occasionally to prevent molding and the ginger will remain fresh for two to three weeks.