Friday, November 01, 2013

Let's Make Crystalised Ginger

As I have my second batch boiling away on the hob, I thought this a perfect time to do a refresher course on making candied ginger root. It isn't difficult, but is best done when you don't have other things going on in the kitchen. I like to do this in the evening, when everyone has something else to do, as hot sugar syrup and small persons underfoot do not mix well.

The Asian market near my home sells ginger root in gigantic pieces for a tiny fraction of the grocer's price. It also tends to be fresher. We're the sort of family that never has trouble using extra ginger root, but if yours is, it can be frozen. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, it can be grated,and sealed in freezer bags, for days when you can't be arsed to grate a bit of ginger into a curry.

Place a kettle on low heat to replenish boiling water. You may not need it, but if you do, it will save time and annoyance. At the same time, set out a baking sheet, and a cake rack (or the metal rack from a roasting pan if that's what you have) over it. Do this with a second baking sheet and rack for the ginger after it is sugared. Fill a large bowl with about 4 cups of sugar. You will have sugar left over, but it will be flavoured with the ginger syrup from the slices, and it makes a wonderful topping for cakes, or stirred into cocoa or tea. Whatever you do, don't toss it out. You will likewise have ginger syrup left that can be stored in a jar in the fridge for several weeks. Use this with fizzy water to make your own ginger ale, or in mixed drinks. These by-products are almost as great as the candied ginger itself, so do remember to save them.

If you're going to the bother of making candied ginger, you may as well make a large batch. Peel your ginger, and then slice it into rounds as thin as possible (unless you are making medallions for candy). Place in a large, heavy pot (a Dutch oven is perfect for this), and cover with enough water that the ginger has about 4 inches over it. You may boil this out and need more, so remember to put the kettle on. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium boil, and cook the living hell out of it. I'm serious. Cook that stuff until it is so tender it is floppy, because  once you add sugar to it and start cooking, it will never get any softer-make sure you can bite through the slices easily before you commit to the syrup.

Once your ginger is tender, remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Measure the liquid, then add sugar in a ratio of 2 parts sugar to one part liquid. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Return the ginger slices to the syrup doing half at a time if it is a very large batch. You want the pieces to move freely in the pot, not clump together. Cook over a fairly high heat until the slices become transparent and "candied" looking. With a slotted spoon, remove them to the rack to drain. After they have cooled a few minutes (you don't want to scald your fingertips) roll each slice in the sugar. Set them on the second rack to dry. This can take several hours or overnight depending on the climate where you live. If you live in a very humid place, they slices can be finished off in a dehydrator at low temperature-but watch it, you do not want powdered ginger.

Store the finished ginger in tightly sealed bags in the fridge. They will keep at room temperature for a while, but the texture stays nicer in the fridge (at least for me).

Happy Baking.


Janice said...

Great! I like the sound of this. The kitchen must smell glorious during the process.

Goody said...

It does, but I would still put on a fan, or open a window as it can be irritating if you are right next to it stirring. Kind of like pickling-it smells nice, but a blast of vinegar up your nose can burn a bit.