Are you supposed to remove the skin from ginger?

Ginger is a popular and versatile ingredient used in many cuisines around the world. It adds a distinctive flavor and aroma to both sweet and savory dishes. When using fresh ginger root, a common question is whether or not you need to peel the tan skin before using it in recipes.

The Short Answer

In most cases, yes – you should peel fresh ginger before using it. The skin is thin, tough and slightly bitter. Removing it helps highlight the aromatic, spicy-sweet flavor of the ginger flesh. However, there are some exceptions where leaving the skin on is acceptable or even desirable.

Reasons to Peel Ginger

Here are some of the main reasons why it’s generally recommended to peel fresh ginger root:

  • Removes the tough, fibrous skin – The skin is quite thin but has a coarse, woody texture.
  • Reduces any dirt or pesticides – Washing alone may not remove all contaminants.
  • Removes bitterness from skin – The skin has a slightly bitter, unpleasant taste.
  • Highlights ginger flavor – Peeling exposes the smooth, aromatic flesh.
  • Improves texture – Skin can be fibrous and distract from tender ginger.
  • Allows better infusion in liquids – Peeling helps release ginger oils.
  • Improves appearance – Peeled ginger looks cleaner and more visually appealing.

As you can see, peeling off the skin removes potential impurities, unpleasant textures and flavors. It leaves just the smooth, fragrant ginger flesh to complement your recipe.

When You Can Leave the Skin on

While peeling ginger is recommended in most recipes, there are some exceptions. Here are some cases when you can leave the ginger skin intact:

  • Using very young, thin ginger – The skin is less fibrous and bitter on younger roots.
  • Making infused ginger water – Good for retaining juices and oils.
  • Adding to soups or stocks – The skin can be removed afterward.
  • Making ginger tea – Skin infuses well here.
  • Juicing ginger – Skin blends into juice if using a powerful blender.
  • Grating ginger – Skin grates up very finely and blends into dish.
  • Pickling ginger – Skin helps retain structure and shape.

In these uses, the ginger skin may not pose as much of an issue in terms of texture or flavor. Leaving it on can help retain beneficial oils and juices. However, peeling is still recommended for the best results.

Does Peeling Ginger Reduce Health Benefits?

Many people enjoy ginger for its potential health promoting properties. This leads to the question – does peeling ginger reduce any of these beneficial compounds?

Studies indicate that the highest concentration of health-boosting gingerol compounds are actually found in the flesh or pulp of the ginger rhizome, rather than the skin:

Ginger Part Gingerol Content
Skin 4.4-7.5%
Flesh (peeled) 14.4-25.9%

Research shows up to 6 times more gingerol in the peeled flesh or pulp compared to the skin. So peeling ginger does not appear to reduce the concentration of these beneficial bioactive compounds.

How to Peel Fresh Ginger Root

Peeling fresh ginger is fortunately a very quick and easy process. Here is a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Use a spoon to scrape away any dirt. Ginger roots often get a little dirty and scrubbing with a spoon helps clean away contaminants.
  2. Rinse under cool running water. Give the ginger a rinse to wash away any remaining dirt or grime.
  3. Trim away any dry, moldy bits. Slice off any dried out, moldy sections with a paring knife.
  4. Hold ginger firmly against cutting board. Use a sturdy board and hold ginger steady with your non-knife hand.
  5. Carefully slice off the skin. Use a paring knife or regular kitchen knife held parallel to the board to slice off the thin ginger skin.
  6. Slice, grate or mince peeled ginger. Cut peeled ginger as needed for your recipe.

Depending on the shape and amount of ginger, the whole peeling process takes just 30 seconds to 1 minute. Compared to scrubbing tough skin during cooking and chewing unpleasant bits, it’s worth taking the short time to peel ginger beforehand.

Can You Use a Peeler or Spoon?

While a knife works very well, there are two other options that can make peeling ginger even easier:

  • Vegetable peeler – A swivel blade peeler can slice off thin ginger skin efficiently in seconds.
  • Spoon – A simple spoon rubbed against the skin scrapes it off easily.

Both methods are fast and effective for removing the skin. Test different techniques to find which one you prefer.

Peeling Ginger vs. Ginger Powder

Instead of fresh ginger root, some recipes call for ground dried ginger or ginger powder.

With ground ginger, there is no skin to remove. The rhizomes are peeled, sliced and dried first before being powdered. This produces a convenient spice that infuses dishes with ginger flavor.

However, there are some notable differences between fresh peeled ginger and ground ginger powder:

Fresh Peeled Ginger Ground Ginger Powder
Has aromatic ginger oils and juices Essential oils lost during drying
Adds spicy bite Less spicy, more mellow
Moist texture Completely dry powder
Short shelf life Long 1-3 year shelf life

Both forms have their uses in cooking. Recipes that benefit from fresh ginger’s pungent bite and aroma often specify peeled fresh ginger. Dishes wanting more subtle dried ginger notes may use the ground powder.

Storing Peeled Ginger

Once ginger root is peeled, it tends to deteriorate faster as the protective skin is gone. Here are some tips for storing peeled ginger:

  • Submerge in water – Peeled ginger can be stored submerged in water in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
  • Freeze – Wrap peeled ginger in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Pickle in vinegar – Pickling peeled ginger in rice vinegar extends shelf life.
  • Dry – Slice thinly and dry peeled ginger root to make candied ginger.

For short term storage up to 1 week, simply place peeled ginger slices in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in the fridge.


Peeling fresh ginger root is recommended for most recipes to highlight its bright, aromatic flavor. The skin is quite thin, so it only takes a minute to remove with a knife, peeler or spoon. While young ginger or some applications like juicing allow for unpeeled skin, peeling generally produces better results. The beneficial compounds are actually concentrated in the pulp or flesh rather than the skin. For prolonged storage, peeled ginger can be pickled, frozen or dried. Otherwise, use peeled ginger within 1-2 weeks before it goes bad. Taking a quick moment to peel really helps improve the flavor, texture and appearance of fresh ginger.

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