How to Tell if Ginger is Bad? How Long Does Ginger Last?

Ginger is undeniably a valuable spice to always have in your house. It elevates the taste of food and acts as a natural remedy for multiple health issues. How can you quickly identify if Ginger has become bad?

The most notable sign of Ginger becoming bad is in the appearance. It turns darker adopting a deep brown or even black color instead of its regular light shade.

We will discuss more on the signs of Ginger going bad later in this article. This will help to prevent ginger from spoiling your taste or even worst, getting sick due to bad ginger.

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Does ginger go bad?

Yes, ginger does get rotten after its limited shelf life.

This rhizome is not immune to ‘going bad’ even with the tough outer peel protecting the edible root flesh inside. It is natural for all food items to have a limited shelf life as they are made up of organic matter. 

Ginger rhizomes are roots that are subject to chemical breakdown after some time. This breakdown attracts microbes which affect the quality and structure of the ginger rhizome.

Spoilage essentially means degeneration and decomposition of food, which in this case is ginger. Storing peeled and unpeeled ginger properly can extend life considerably. 

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How Long Does Ginger Last?

Here is a quick Summary

Approximate expiry forRoom TempIn FridgeFreezer
Fresh Ginger Root
(Un Peeled)
1 Week3 – 5 weeks3 – 4 months
Fresh Ginger Root
(Peeled)
NA1 week3 – 4 months
Ginger
Paste
NA1 month3 – 4 months
Ginger
preserved
in Jar
(with liquid
preservative)
2-3 months2-3 monthsNA
Powdered Ginger
(Dry)
2-3 yearsNANA

Peeled Ginger has a shorter lifespan. Peeled ginger in any form like whole rhizomes, chunks, or slices cannot be stored and can only last a week in the refrigerator. Removing your ginger peel makes the root more vulnerable to contaminants.

Keeping the peel on can make it last a bit longer at room temperature.

Unpeeled ginger can last for a week at room temperature. It can last for 3 – 5 weeks with refrigeration. If you want to store it for very long periods, you can freeze it and it can last 4 to 5 months.

Ginger powder, pickled ginger, and candied ginger have higher life spans due to the treatments they have undergone or the liquids used to preserve them.

Ginger paste and ginger jarred in liquid preservatives can stay edible for months (in the fridge). Powdered ginger can last beyond a year.

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Signs that can tell if Ginger Root has gone bad?

Let us look below at the three signs that can tell you about the health of ginger and whether it is safe to be consumed by you.

Sign 1 – Appearance

More often than not, you can identify spoiled ginger by just looking at it.

Fresh healthy ginger is known for its outer brown protective peel and yellow and green inner flesh. This gives it a distinct appearance that anyone can identify.  

When ginger spoils, its color is the first property that gets affected. The root turns darker adopting a deep brown or even black color instead of its regular light shade.

You will notice this darkening of color in the ginger paste as well when it becomes bad.

Apart from color, you may also notice ginger root looking wet and condensed with water as it starts to spoil.

Sign 2 – Smell

All food and vegetables, including ginger, will emit a foul smell after getting rotten. This smell will increase in intensity if kept longer.

Why does overdue ginger smell? After some time, the chemical process changes start to break down the physical structure. This creates new chemicals with new properties like a foul smell.

Sometimes spoilt ginger does not show any visual signs but still smells bad. This is a true sign that you should discard the ginger even if it appears visually edible. 

As soon as ginger starts to smell “off” do not delay removing it as it can cause other vegetables to spoil. 

Sign 3 – Feel

Once ginger rhizomes or chunks start to feel soft or spongy, it is time to say goodbye! Clearly, this lack of firmness must be taken as a hint that the ginger rhizome is nearing its end of life.

Ginger that has gone bad usually has a slimy feel and the peel partially comes off when touched. The overall stability of the rhizome decreases as time passes.

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Should you eat Moldy Ginger?

Moldy ginger lacks that fresh look as there is blue or white fungal growth arising from areas that have been cut. After trimming off these moldy areas, the ginger may look fresh again.

It is generally safe to eat ginger when mold is cut off. Though we would strongly recommend not to use ginger who had mold.

There are many restaurants, professional caterers, and households that have a zero mold tolerance policy.

When it comes to health and safety, why risk it? Play it safe by throwing away any moldy ginger and replacing it with fresh ginger. Fresh ginger is free of any health risks and is not compromising in flavor. 

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When to Discard Fresh Ginger?

Fresh ginger is generally good for a timespan of 1 week.

After this, it is important that you must be alert and check before consuming it. If ginger is in paste or minced form, look for discoloration or irregular objects (fungal growth). Any sign of color change is a reason to replace your ginger stockpile.

Thus if you make a new ginger paste, do not mix it with previous batches since mixing can lead to further spoilage of a larger quantity.  

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What Does Healthy Ginger Look Like?

The condition of the outer ginger peel is a great indication of overall health. Healthy ginger has a brown outer peel that is free of cuts, holes, and wrinkles. It also has yellow flesh that is moist. As it ages this flesh becomes fibrous and tough.

Good edible ginger should be firm and even the slightest squeeze is not a good sign!

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Methods of Delaying Ginger Spoilage

If you want to delay ginger spoilage, you must make active efforts to store your ginger in the right place in the right condition before rot sets in.

Below are a few of the best conditions to make your ginger last longer are:

  • Air tight containers/plastics/jars
  • Cold temperatures (refrigerator or freezer)
  • Preservatives (alcohol, honey)
  • Removal of moisture

Most people have excess fresh ginger and they choose one of the below long-term storage methods to delay ginger spoilage. 

– Drying

Complete removal of water is a great way of delaying the rotting of ginger.

Water is the key component that induces spoilage, so taking it all out makes the most sense. You must have probably seen powdered ginger bottles at the grocery store and now you know why it is so popular and always available. 

This powder can last years, however, the taste will decrease with conversion to powder stage and still decreases with age.

– Refrigeration

People who constantly find themselves using fresh ginger will feel most comfortable with refrigeration. Extra ginger, peeled or unpeeled can easily be kept in a paper towel or air-tight plastic for later use. 

Sadly, the fridge can only buy 1 week of life for your fresh (or prepped) ginger. Well, you can still store ginger and store it later for your dishes.

– Freezing

People mostly choose to freeze as a method of delaying ginger spoilage since it is trustworthy.

Whole ginger rhizomes, chopped ginger, or even ginger paste. Your ginger will easily surpass ginger lifelines and last several months without chances of spoiling.

– Preservatives

A variety of preserving agents can be used to extend the life of your ginger. Examples include honey, vinegar, sherry, vodka, etc. They all protect ginger and don’t allow it to come in contact with air and hence slow down decomposition. 

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FAQs

Does ginger root expire?

Expiry is just another word for spoilage, so yes ginger expires. You can see this with signs like changes in sight, smell, or touch.

How do you store fresh ginger root?

The most reliable way to store fresh ginger is in the refrigerator. You can choose to keep the peel on or off but the lifespan will be almost the same for both. Of course, refrigeration alone will not prolong your ginger and you need to use air-tight packaging. 
Other ways to store fresh ginger root for longer time intervals include freezing and storing in alcohol and other liquids that inhibit microbial growth for decent time periods.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9780470650837#page=269