Fresh ginger is not as friendly looking as powdered ginger, which comes in a neat little canister along with all of the other dried spices. It goes into baked goods along with dry ingredients and requires no prep time. Fresh ginger, on the other hand, looks a little alien by comparison. The bulbous root is firm and it’s not obvious how to use it – especially in baking – if you’ve never used it before. Fresh ginger has a bright, slightly spicy flavor to it that can really make some baked goods a lot more interesting, so it is worth giving it a shot at least a few times.
To use fresh ginger, you must first peel off the dark outer layer of the piece you want to use. You can slice it off with a paring knife, but a vegetable/potato peeler is the easiest tool to use. Only peel a piece about the size you’re going to need, as the ginger stays fresher with its skin on. Ginger is fibrous, but the fresher your ginger is the less fibrous, more tender and more flavorful, so try to use less fibrous pieces when possible. Once your chunk of ginger has been peeled, either slice it up with a sharp knife or use a microplane to grate it very finely before adding it to recipes. Fresh ginger should generally be mixed in with wet ingredients, while ground ginger is usually added with the dry ingredients, so keep that in mind if you start to experiment adding ginger to your favorite banana bread or spice cake recipe.