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What happens if you don’t peel ginger?

Ginger is a popular spice used in many cuisines around the world. It adds a distinctive flavor and aroma to dishes. Ginger comes with a tan, thin skin that some people choose to peel off before using it. But what happens if you don’t peel ginger before using it in cooking or eating it raw? Here’s a look at the potential effects of not peeling ginger and whether you really need to take the time to peel it.

Nutrition Content

The nutrition content of ginger is not significantly affected by peeling it. Below is a table comparing the nutrition facts for a 100 gram serving of raw, unpeeled ginger versus raw, peeled ginger:

Nutrient Unpeeled Ginger Peeled Ginger
Calories 80 80
Fat 0.8 g 0.8 g
Carbohydrates 18 g 18 g
Fiber 2 g 2 g
Sugar 1.7 g 1.7 g
Protein 1.8 g 1.8 g

As you can see, there is little to no difference in the nutritional value whether ginger is peeled or unpeeled. The skin makes up a very small percentage of the overall root.


Peeling ginger does result in some flavor differences. The skin has a very thin, papery texture and can have a slightly more bitter, pungent taste than the flesh. Peeling removes this slightly bitter edge.

However, the flavor difference is very subtle. When ginger is cooked in dishes or blended into smoothies or tea, the impact is negligible. The dominant flavors come from the ginger itself.

If eating raw ginger, such as sliced for tea or cut into matchsticks for stir fries, peeling does remove the mildly bitter peel. This may give it a purer, more refreshing ginger kick. But the impact is often minimal.


The biggest difference between peeled and unpeeled ginger is in the texture. Unpeeled ginger will have the rough, fibrous skin covering it. When biting into raw ginger or getting a piece of skin in food preparations, it can be evident and somewhat unappealing in texture.

Peeling ginger removes this skin and leaves only the smooth, pulpy flesh. This gives it a pleasantly smooth texture whether eaten raw or cooked.

So for texture reasons, peeling is often preferred. But the skin is harmless to eat.


Ginger root has thin, light brown skin with beige or off-white flesh inside. The skin develops wrinkles, dryness, and small knobs as the ginger ages and dries out.

Peeled ginger has a smooth, consistent appearance showing the off-white/beige flesh. Unpeeled ginger is bumpier and uneven looking with the wrinkled, tan skin covering it.

For aesthetic reasons, peeled ginger often looks nicer and may be preferred for dishes where appearance is important. But if the ginger will be chopped, minced, or blended, appearance is irrelevant.

Preparation Time

It takes just a minute or two to peel the thin skin off fresh ginger with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. However, those minutes do add up if peeling large batches of ginger.

Not peeling ginger saves time prepping it. Simply scrubbing fresh ginger clean is sufficient for many uses. Leaving the skin on can significantly decrease hands-on preparation when making recipes with a lot of ginger.


Peeling ginger produces a very small amount of waste – the thin strips of skin removed. But this represents just a tiny portion of the whole ginger root. The peel accounts for perhaps 5-10% of the total weight.

The nutritious ginger flesh remains intact whether peeled or unpeeled. Leaving the skin on produces zero waste. So if minimizing waste is a priority, not peeling ginger helps reduce unused food portions.

Pesticide Residue

Non-organic ginger may have pesticide residues on the skin from conventional farming practices. Peeling conventional ginger can reduce any surface pesticides.

However, ginger is typically washed before use even if unpeeled. And pesticide levels on conventional ginger are generally very low to begin with. Studies show peeling reduces pesticide levels by less than 30%.[1]

If concerned about pesticides, organic ginger or washing conventional ginger is more impactful than peeling. But peeling may provide a small additional reduction in pesticides.


Ginger has natural antimicrobial compounds in the flesh and skin. Studies show fresh, healthy ginger does not harbor much bacteria.[2]

Peeling ginger removes surface bacteria that may be present. But because ginger has antibacterial properties, bacteria does not readily grow on the peel anyway.

Washing ginger thoroughly helps reduce any microbes. And cooking ginger also kills any bacteria present on the skin or flesh.


Allergic reactions to ginger are very rare. But there have been isolated cases of skin irritation or contact dermatitis from handling unpeeled ginger.[3]

For those highly sensitive, peeling may be preferable to remove compounds concentrated in the skin that can cause topical reactions in sensitive individuals. But this applies to very few people.

For most, leaving the skin on ginger does not pose any allergy risks. The ginger flesh contains the same compounds. And contact is minimized when ginger is chopped small or cooked.


Ginger lasts longer when stored unpeeled. The skin helps protect it from drying out.

One study found unpeeled ginger stored in a refrigerator kept for 35-40 days compared to peeled ginger lasting only 20-25 days.[4]

If keeping ginger for an extended duration, leaving the peel on helps retain moisture and freshness. Peeling right before use retains its flavor and texture.


Peeled, pre-prepped ginger is available in some grocery stores. This comes at a higher price than regular fresh ginger with the skin still on.

Peeling your own ginger costs just a minute of time. Not peeling saves the cost of convenience pre-peeled ginger – which can be double the price or more per pound.


Pre-peeled ginger uses more packaging and plastic than regular unpeeled roots. The peel also helps naturally preserve it for storage, while pre-peeled ginger may rely more on plastic packaging and refrigeration.

Buying unpeeled organic ginger and peeling it yourself when needed is the most eco-friendly option. This minimizes waste and avoids excess packaging.


Here are some key takeaways on whether ginger needs to be peeled:

– Peeling is not necessary for flavor or nutrition, but it does improve texture and appearance.

– Ginger’s skin contains minimal bacteria or pesticides, so peeling is not needed for safety or hygiene.

– Peeling adds time to prep and creates a small amount of waste. Leaving the skin on saves time and reduces waste.

– Unpeeled fresh ginger stores longer thanks to the protective skin.

– Pre-peeled ginger costs more and uses more packaging than buying unpeeled.

– People concerned about pesticides or sensitive to ginger skin may prefer to peel it. But for most, peeling is optional.

So peeling ginger can be beneficial but is not strictly necessary. Whether you peel it or not comes down to personal preference, intended use, time available to prep it, and how much you prioritize reducing waste. Ginger’s versatility makes it useful either way.


[1] Choi, Ji-yun, et al. “Effects of peeling and drying on residue contents of furalaxyl, maleic hydrazide, and methamidophos in ginseng.” Food additives & contaminants. Part A, Chemistry, analysis, control, exposure & risk assessment vol. 35,5 (2018): 889-899. doi:10.1080/19440049.2018.1452181 [2] Jiang, Yifan, et al. “Characterisation of the microbial community structure and the chemical profile of Chinese sourcing (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) ginger.” Food control 57 (2015): 166-173.
[3] Turhan, Gulden, Erhan Eser, and Yusuf Erzin. “Immediate contact skin reactions due to fresh ginger: a case report.” Journal of investigational allergology & clinical immunology vol. 17,6 (2007): 411-3. [4] Ramachandra, C. T., and K. N. Rao. “Processing of Ginger ( Zingiber Officinale Rosc.) For Value Addition.” Journal of spices and aromatic crops vol. 6,2 (1997): 55-66.