Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crystalised Ginger

As we near, "Stir-up Sunday", I'm getting my pudding, and Christmas cake ingredients in order. I have candied confit of clementines already, but I should do lemons, cherries and pineapple if time permits. Last year, I glaceed apricots, which were delicious but kind of extravagant. Maybe a batch for the kid's Birthday, or something.

I swear, this year, I am gonna build that damn nougat frame from the 1971 Gourmet Christmas issue. Every year I say I will, then find some reason not to. This year, I'm doing it. The nougat will be nut-free, of course. My dentist is reading this and thinking, "yes! Build the nougat frame-I'll help."

Yesterday, I candied a pound of ginger. It sounds like quite a bit, but it goes fast as certain people can't seem to keep their hands off it. The ginger was very fresh, and this might be the best batch I've ever made. I can assure you, it cost well under the $15.00 dollars a pound this stuff fetches at the store.

Crysaltised ginger is just swell as is, but dipped in some dark chocolate it becomes...more caloric. OK, see, I warned you. It also won't help nausea if you're using it for that (believe me, if chocolate cured nausea I'd be bloody Willy Wonka). Personally, I don't get much nausea relief from ginger, or ginger tea, but I do find salt helpful. Mr. ETB finds it odd that I sit here licking the salt off pretzels, then discarding the pretzel, but it is easy to judge when you aren't spending half your life trying not to throw-up.

When you're through making the ginger, save the syrup in the pot to flavour soda water, or tea, or drizzle over pancakes. Hell, stick a straw in the glass and drink it straight for all I care, but under no circumstances should you discard it-it is that good. Likewise, the sugar that falls off as your ginger dries on the rack can be gathered up and used as it is now infused with a strong ginger flavour. Waste not, want not, kids.

You Will Need:

1 lb. stem ginger, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible. Really, paper thin.
Water to cover

1/2 reserved boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar

2-3 cups sugar for coating

Place the ginger in a heavy pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low simmer and cover. Cook until tender-about 30 minutes with frequent checking. Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid and drain. Return liquid to pot and whisk in the sugar. Bring to a boil (not a full rolling boil, as you don't want it to start hardening). Drop in half the ginger, and move it around a bit with a spoon to keep it from sticking. When it is clear looking, and candied in appearance, remove it a few pieces at a time with tongs, let the excess liquid drop back into the pot and roll in sugar. Transfer to a drying rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat until done. Do second half of ginger in same manner.

Then, let it dry several hours, or overnight in a cool place. I have ceiling fans which help, but in some climates it might be to your benefit to plug in a dehumidifier if you have one (I have one, but didn't need it this time). When completely dry, pack it into an airtight jar and try to keep people from devouring it before you get a chance to begin holiday baking.

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