How To Tell If Ginger Is Bad

How To Tell If Ginger Is Bad

Ginger is an incredible spice because, unlike many others, it can be used both raw from the root and in any of the numerous other forms it takes in the kitchen. The fresh, zingy flavor that ginger adds to food, along with its health benefits, has made it a popular ingredient in many kitchens, whether it’s used to make a warm beverage like tea or as a condiment. Ginger, like other spices, does, however, go bad.

When does ginger go bad, and how do you know? Spoilage signs appear on fresh ginger that has gone bad. To begin with, it might be rotten smelling. Second, the ginger might be very pliable. Third, spoiled ginger will have a grayish hue and possibly surface mold spots. For more information, including how to store ginger to keep it fresher for longer and how to tell when fresh ginger has gone bad, keep reading!

Signs That Fresh Ginger Has Gone Bad

If left out for a long enough period of time, fresh ginger eventually goes bad. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to tell when ginger has deteriorated, but it still helps to be aware of the signs to ensure that you only use fresh ginger. Here are a few indicators that fresh ginger has spoiled.


The first thing to check for is any discoloration on the ginger. When ginger begins to spoil, it loses its color and appears lighter, duller, and almost gray. As it deteriorates, it may develop mold spots on the surface. These can be green, white, or gray and can appear in a single location or all over. Even if there is only one spot of mold on the ginger, it should all be discarded.

Foul Odor

Ginger shouldn’t smell rotten or foul; instead, it should have a sharp, fresh aroma. If the ginger smells unpleasant or rotten when you sniff it, it has most likely spoiled and should not be consumed.

Soft To Touch

Ginger should be firm and unaffected by applying pressure with your fingertips. If you touch the ginger and notice a change in texture, such as the ginger becoming soft and mushy, throw it away — this is an indication that the ginger has spoiled.

Signs That Pickled Ginger Has Gone Bad

Ginger can be pickled in vinegar and other ingredients to extend its shelf life and enhance flavor. When making pickled ginger, the pickle brine makes it very difficult for mold or bacteria to flourish. However, if you use a spoon to pick up some pickled ginger that you previously used for another food and bacteria are introduced into the jar, contamination may occur. This prolongs the freshness of the ginger, but pickled ginger can eventually spoil, so you need to be aware of the telltale signs.

Rancid Smell

Pickled ginger should have a strong aroma of both ginger and pickling vinegar, which is easy to detect. However, if you open the jar of pickled ginger and it has a rancid odor, it is most likely spoiled and should be discarded.


If there are no other indications that the pickled ginger is off and you taste it and it tastes sour, you should stop eating. However, you shouldn’t use taste as the first indication that something has gone bad. Pickled ginger may have gone bad if it tastes anything other than gingery, slightly sweet, and vinegary.

How To Select Fresh Ginger

When purchasing fresh ginger from the grocery store, select the freshest ginger root possible — the fresher the ginger, the longer it will last at home! Feel for tenderness when selecting fresh ginger. Fresh ginger should be firm to the touch and hard to the touch. If there are any soft spots, it could indicate that it has been sitting for a while.

Next, try to detect any odors emanating from the ginger. It should smell like ginger, though it should be subtle because the skin is still on, and it should not have any foul or strange odors. Finally, ensure that the skin is smooth — it should be tannish-yellow in color and free of gray or spots.

How To Store Fresh Ginger

How ginger is stored at home has a direct impact on how long it keeps before going bad. Once brought home, ginger needs to be refrigerated. Ginger needs to be kept dry as well, and if it is kept cool and dry in the fridge, it can last for up to two months. Fresh ginger should be put into an airtight, resealable bag before being sealed for the best storage results. After that, you can put this in the vegetable crisper drawer to keep it cool and fresh.

Naturally, this only applies to ginger that hasn’t been peeled. Once ginger is peeled, you can store it in a resealable plastic freezer bag in the same manner, but it won’t keep as long and needs to be used within one to two weeks. If the ginger has been minced or grated, it should be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container or a plastic freezer bag.

Shelf Life Of Ginger

Ginger can be prepared and served in a variety of ways, and each preparation has a different shelf life.

Can You Freeze Ginger?

You can freeze ginger to keep it fresher for longer if you don’t think you’ll be able to use it all before it starts to go bad. Ginger can be stored in the freezer for up to six months if it is properly frozen. It should be stored in an airtight freezer-safe container or a resealable freezer bag. One thing to keep in mind is that once frozen and thawed, ginger might become soft and slightly soggy; therefore, it is best to use it for cooked dishes or smoothies after taking it out of the freezer.

The fresh ginger root should be grated before freezing for the best results. The grated ginger will defrost more quickly and you can take out as much as you like at once without having to defrost it all at once.

Can I Eat Ginger That Has Gone Moldy?

You might be tempted to use the rest of your fresh ginger even if it has a little mold on it if you find just one or two spots. You could possibly get away with it, but there’s a big chance the mold has already spread and isn’t showing up anywhere. There is potential for illness if this mold is ingested. While it may seem wasteful to toss an entire ginger root because of a few mold spots, the alternative is far worse: getting sick.

Final Thoughts

Ginger is a great fresh ingredient to keep on hand, but it can go bad after a while — knowing what to look for can help you determine whether or not ginger is safe to eat. Check that the ginger is still a yellowish-tan color, that it smells like fresh, zesty ginger, and that it is firm to the touch, not soft or soggy. If the ginger appears to be off in any way, such as smelling bad or becoming soft or discolored, it is best to discard it.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve learned all about ginger, plus how to tell if it’s gone bad, here are some additional questions that we thought you might have.

What can you do with excess ginger?

There are several uses for ginger that can be put to good use before it spoils. First, it can be frozen to lengthen its storage time. Other uses include making ginger syrup, infusing tea, or even pickling the ginger yourself.

Is soft ginger still okay?

If your ginger is soft to the touch, even if it does not display other signs of spoiling, it is safer to throw it away and not use it.

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