Does ginger get spoiled?

Ginger is a popular spice used in many cuisines around the world. It comes from the rhizome (underground stem) of the ginger plant. When fresh, ginger has a robust, pungent flavor that adds heat and brightness to dishes. But like other fresh produce, ginger has a limited shelf life. So does ginger go bad and get spoiled eventually?

Quick answer: Yes, ginger can spoil

The short answer is yes, ginger can spoil over time. Although ginger root has a relatively long shelf life compared to other fresh produce, it will eventually start to degrade in quality and develop signs of spoilage.

How to tell if ginger has gone bad

There are a few key signs that indicate fresh ginger has spoiled and is past its prime:

  • Dried out or shriveled appearance
  • Soft or mushy texture
  • Mold growth
  • Unpleasant odor

Fresh, high-quality ginger should have smooth, taut skin and feel firm to the touch. As ginger ages and dries out, it becomes wrinkled looking and softened. The flavor also becomes more muted and less pungent.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of spoiled ginger is the growth of mold. This appears as fuzzy blue, green, or white patches on the surface. Mold renders the ginger unsafe to eat and it should be discarded.

Finally, old or rotten ginger gives off an unpleasant odor. Fresh ginger has an invigorating, peppery scent. Spoiled ginger smells odd or “off.” If in doubt, use your nose – rancid ginger should be thrown out.

How long does ginger last?

So how long does fresh ginger last before it goes bad? With proper storage, fresh ginger rhizomes will stay good for:

  • 2-3 weeks at room temperature
  • 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator
  • Up to 6 months frozen

The length of time depends on several factors like temperature, humidity, and how fresh it was when you bought it. But in general, plan to use fresh ginger within a few weeks of purchasing for best quality.

Whole ginger root

Whole, unpeeled ginger lasts longer than sliced or peeled ginger because the skin helps protect it from drying out. Place fresh, unwashed ginger root in a paper bag or wrap it in a paper towel. Keep it on the counter out of direct sunlight and use within 2-3 weeks.

Peeled/sliced ginger

Once peeled and sliced, ginger loses moisture more quickly so won’t last as long. Place cut ginger pieces or slices in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 weeks.

Frozen ginger

Freezing is the best way to extend the shelf life of fresh ginger. It stops the aging process and preserves the flavor and quality. Peel and slice the ginger, then store in freezer bags or airtight containers. It will keep for at least 6 months in the freezer.

What causes ginger to spoil?

There are a few main factors that lead to ginger spoilage and shorten its shelf life:

  • Dehydration – Fresh ginger has a very high moisture content. As it sits out, the water slowly evaporates causing it to shrivel and dry up.
  • Oxidation – Exposure to air causes oxidation, which degrades the sugars, fibers, and phytonutrients in ginger.
  • Mold – Excess moisture promotes the growth of mold. Spores present in the air, soil, or storage containers can take hold on old ginger.
  • Bacterial growth – Bacteria naturally present on the ginger can multiply over time leading to rotting and foul odors.

Proper storage methods like refrigeration and freezing slow down these spoilage processes. But eventually fresh ginger will succumb to aging and drying out.

Can spoiled ginger make you sick?

Ginger that shows signs of spoilage like mold growth or a foul smell should be discarded. Consuming spoiled ginger can potentially make you sick:

  • Mold contains toxins that can cause illness.
  • Bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli can grow on rotten ginger.
  • The green discoloration is caused by a chemical called zingerone that forms as ginger ages. It may cause nausea or diarrhea.

Always inspect fresh ginger before using it. Look for any discolored or slimy areas. If it smells unpleasant, it’s best to play it safe and throw it out.

How to store ginger properly

Here are some tips for maximizing fresh ginger’s shelf life and preventing it from spoiling quickly:

Buy firm, unshriveled ginger

Check that the ginger looks fresh with smooth, tight skin when purchasing. Older ginger is more prone to spoiling faster.

Store in the crisper drawer

Keep fresh ginger in the high humidity environment of the refrigerator crisper. This prevents moisture loss.

Wrap it

Wrap peeled ginger pieces or slices in a paper towel before storing in an airtight container. This absorbs excess moisture and inhibits mold growth.

Freeze for long-term storage

Peel, slice, and freeze ginger in freezer bags or containers to extend its shelf life up to 6 months.

Store dried ginger properly

Ground dried ginger powder should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot. It will last 1-2 years.

Can you eat sprouted ginger?

Old ginger that has been stored for several months may begin to sprout. Little green shoots will emerge from the bumps on the rhizome. This indicates that the ginger plant is still alive and trying to grow.

Sprouted ginger is still safe to consume as long as it smells and tastes normal. The sprouts themselves can be snipped off and used like scallions. There may be some loss of flavor when ginger sprouts, but it does not necessarily mean the ginger is spoiled.

Signs of fresh high-quality ginger:

  • Smooth, tight, unwrinkled skin
  • Firm, solid texture
  • Pungent ginger aroma
  • Light yellow/tan color inside

Signs of spoiled, rotten ginger:

  • Shriveled, dry appearance
  • Soft, mushy texture
  • Moldy spots
  • Foul, unpleasant smell
  • Discolored inside (greenish-blue)

Frequently asked questions

Can you get sick from spoiled ginger?

Yes, consuming spoiled ginger that has mold, bacteria, or other toxins could make you sick with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Always inspect ginger and discard any that is discolored or has an off smell.

Does ginger need to be refrigerated?

Fresh ginger will last longer when stored in the refrigerator, but it does not necessarily need to be refrigerated. Whole ginger can be kept in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a cool cupboard for 2-3 weeks. Peeled, sliced ginger should be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

Can you freeze grated ginger?

Yes, grated fresh ginger can be frozen for long-term storage. Spread the grated ginger in a thin layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Then transfer to an airtight freezer container or bag. It will keep for 4-6 months.

What’s the white stuff on old ginger?

The white filaments that develop on old ginger rhizomes are called ginger flowers. These are small fibers that form as the ginger ages and dries out. They do not make the ginger unsafe, but indicate that it is past its prime.

Does cooking kill bacteria on spoiled ginger?

No, cooking does not necessarily make spoiled ginger safe to eat. Mold toxins and bacteria spores can survive cooking temperatures. Always discard ginger that shows signs of rotting or mold.


Fresh ginger has a relatively short shelf life and will eventually spoil if not stored properly. Signs that ginger has gone bad include wrinkled skin, soft texture, mold growth, and an unpleasant odor. To extend its shelf life, store ginger in the crisper drawer, wrap in paper towels, or freeze.

Consuming spoiled ginger that has mold or bacterial growth can cause illness. Always inspect fresh ginger before use and discard any with signs of spoilage. Following proper storage methods can help delay spoilage and keep ginger fresh for 2-6 months.

Storage Method Shelf Life of Fresh Ginger
Room temperature 2-3 weeks
Refrigerated 3-4 weeks
Frozen 6 months

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