Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crystallized Ginger

Crystallized (Candied) Ginger is a wonderful thing.  You can use it as a snack, in marinades, in baking.  And ginger has many medicinal properties.  Most notably it aids digestion and cures and prevents a variety of ills relating to the GI tract.  Matthew likes it for bedtime snack and I give it to him in lieu of Dramamine for motion sickness.  It really works.  I take it for nausea often & carry it with me in my purse.  I can't say enough good things about it.  I even put it in my turkey brine at Thanksgiving.  Its both sweet and hot to the tongue.

That being said, Penzey's charges about $3.50 an ounce for the stuff.  I made a batch that amounted to almost a pound, and it cost me about $4. 
However, be warned:  this is a little time-consuming.  A good portion of it, though, does not require constant monitoring, so you can do other things -- you just need to be there.  Count on an hour and a half to two hours total.

You will need:
Ginger Root.  A piece about the size of your hand will do.  It really doesn't matter, but I figure, if I'm making the stuff, I'm going to make a big batch.  It keeps for weeks in an airtight container.

That's it.

First, peel all the ginger.  I do it with a paring knife, but some say you can use the side of a spoon, and you save more of the ginger that way.  All I got was a cramp in my thumb, so I went back to the knife.  Cut off the knobs as you need to in order to peel it.  They don't have to be pretty.

Next, slice it up, as thinly and evenly as possible.  I used my mandoline.

Unfortunately, I lost the little guard thingy, and my blade is dull.  However, not dull enough, evidently. (I think I need a new mandonline.)

Don't do this!

After returning from the ER (just kidding!  I didn't have to go -- I just put Super Glue on it.  Really!), place all the ginger slices in a large pot and generously cover with water.  Bring to a rolling boil, turn heat down, but keep it at a good simmer, and put the lid on askew -- just so all the water doesn't boil off.  Cook this for about 40 minutes.  Your kitchen will smell wonderful.

After that, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and drain off the rest.  (One time I reserved it all, strained it, made it into a simple syrup and mixed it with seltzer it to make home made ginger ale, but the kids didn't really like it, so I've stopped doing that.)

If you have a kitchen scale, weigh your drained ginger.  Put it in the pot, and add an equal amount, by weight, of plain sugar.  Add the 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid.  (If you don't have a kitchen scale, just eyeball it.  I used about 2 cups of sugar for this batch.  You can't add too much -- just too little.)

Now, bring this mess back up to a rolling boil and don't cover it.  Keep it at a boil.  For a while, you can just stir occasionally.  As more of the water boils off, you will need to start stirring constantly.  You will also get a ginger facial.  Continue to cook it at a rolling boil until ALL the water is gone and the sugar re-crystalizes.  Be very careful.  This stuff is like napalm.  Use a hotpad!

Start stirring constantly now:

Now it's done:

Spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.  The rack really didn't work, as the ginger just fell through, and its not necessary anyway.  When I package it up, I just use a slotted spoon to get the ginger but leave most of the sugar behind.  Put it in a plastic container, but NOT in a plastic bag.  I don't know why, but it will get gummy in a baggie.

This will keep for about 6 weeks.  Maybe longer, but I've never had a batch stay around that long -- we eat it. 

Don't throw that yummy, gingery sugar away!  Its great for sweetening tea, sugar cookies, ginger snaps, frosting, just about anything. 

Nothing wrong with this pot that a good cold water soak can't fix:

Oh, and in keeping with my original rules regarding not getting sued for copyright infringement, I must say that this recipe is based on Alton Brown's, over at the Food Network:

Bon Apetit!

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty neat. I like Crystal Ginger. Don't feel like slaving over a hot stove in this heat...