Ginger is an indispensable spice that can add heat and delicate flavor to meat, vegetable and fish dishes. A rhizome from the Zingiber officinale plant, ginger is sold fresh, powdered, pickled and candied.
For a subtle, fresh flavor with a peppery aftertaste and flowery aroma, pass on the dried variety and choose a chubby fresh specimen from your local produce market. Ginger is like a knobby beige root with a papery covering. Once you've stripped off the outer layer, the light yellow, fibrous flesh can be grated or finely chopped and included in either cooked or cold foods.
To preserve fresh ginger for later use, slice it into half-inch pieces and place them in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover the ginger completely with sherry or white wine and refrigerate. Ginger freezes well, too -- just tightly seal it in plastic wrap.