Ginger is a tuberous vegetable with brown skin and pale yellow flesh. It has a pungent, spicy aroma and characteristic taste. Try scraping the skin off with a teaspoon rather than cutting with a knife to minimise waste.
Ginger should be harvested after the leaves have died and the root has fully matured. Internal flesh colour should be pale yellow. Delaying harvesting after maturity is reached will reduce the rhizome quality, decrease the storage life and increase the incidence of sprouting during storage. Harvesting during very wet or very dry conditions is to be avoided as this will reduce the ease of harvesting and increase the level of potential damage.
Postharvest storage temperature
Ginger may be successfully stored for several months if the correct postharvest handling and storage procedures are utilised, and healthy, undamaged rhizomes are initially selected. The optimal temperature for storing and transporting is 12°C.
Controlled atmosphere storage
The use of controlled or modified atmospheres is negligible.
Low sensitivity to ethylene.
Dehydration is a common postharvest disorder of ginger held under low relative humidity conditions (i.e. less than 65% RH). Shrivelling of the rhizome becomes noticeable after the loss of more than 10% of the initial harvest weight. On the other hand, surface mould will begin to grow at a relative humidity above 90% and sprouting will be stimulated, especially if the temperature is above 16°C. In order to minimise weight loss but avoid surface mould, a compromise relative humidity range of 70%–75% is recommended.
Disease & infection
Postharvest disease in ginger is normally due to rough harvesting and handling practices. Losses from diseases are generally as a result of superficial mould or soft rots on rhizomes where breakage has occurred. Fusarium rot can cause serious problems. Symptoms include pale brown discoloration of the vascular strands that invades the rest of the rhizome. Pythium rot has also been reported, where the rhizome become soft and watery. Saprophytes, such as penicillium spp., may grow on cut ends and injured areas and although not parasitic, they give the cut ends and surface an unsightly appearance.
The flavour of ginger imparted depends on when it is added during cooking: subtle if added at the beginning; more pungent at the end.