Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Chrystallized Ginger

Wow, I have not blogged in quite a while, why must school take so much time away from baking? In any case, I'm getting back into the habit right now with this belated post about homemade candied ginger.
Crystallized ginger was not something I ever ate as a kid, but I find it fascinating now. I think I like the idea of eating crystallized shards of things and fresh ginger is one of my post-moving-away-from-home discoveries. It brings warmth and fragrance to all kinds of sweet and savoury foods and beverages (ginger tea anyone? ) it is the world's best loved rhizome.
This crystallized ginger worked surprisingly well, considering I have a well documented fear of burning sugar.
Although, I'd never candied anything before, I decided to go for it and candy some ginger. After all, ginger is cheap and sugar is cheap and water is cheap (mmmm....delicious harbour water) what did I have to lose?
The idea behind candying fruit (or rhizomes) is that you render the water out of it and replace it with sugar. To that end, the way to do this is to immerse the ginger/fruit into a sugar syrup and boil the liquid to evaporate the water. I found an online recipe that seemed plausible and decided to use that as my guide although I have included my own process and notes, because timing for individual batches may vary.
Lo and behold, the candi-fication was a resounding success, even after that point when I turned my back and my syrup started to turn golden and I had to rush to get my ginger out of there before it burned. The good news is my olfactory senses were tingling. If your ginger smells like spicy toast it is time to take it off the heat. Other than my little slip, I did manage to save the precious ginger, and it worked out perfectly. The ginger came out fiery and sweet, the outside coated with a glittery sugary dusting and the insides had been rendered into a chewy jelly-candy. Now I understand why people like this stuff. I've been popping crystallized ginger like m&m's for the past two days and I hope I still have some left by the time I figure out what to bake with it.

Crystallized Ginger
  • about 1-1/2 pounds ginger (I used two large rhizomes)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  1. Peel and slice the ginger 1/8 inch thick. the thinner the better. Set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Place a wire rack over top of baking sheet. set aside.
  3. Combine the sugar and water in a 2-quart heavy bottomed saucepan. Turn heat to high and stir to dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the sliced ginger. Stir so that the ginger slices don't stick together.
  4. Let the water-sugar mixture with the sliced ginger come to a boil and boil for 40-45 minutes. At first the water will foam up a lot. Stir the boiling mixture occasionally to prevent sticking and so that no ginger gets stuck at the bottom. At about the 40-45 minute mark, the water will stop foaming and will start to look and sound like clear lava. It will be thickened, syrupy and produce loud (seriously,) slow bubbles. at this point remove the pot from the heat. If you leave it too long at this point the syrup will begin to brown and the ginger could burn.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the ginger to your wire rack placed over a lined baking sheet. Let cool enough to handle. Once cooled slightly, toss the still-warm ginger pieces in granulated sugar to coat. Return to wire rack and let dry overnight. The next morning, place ginger in an airtight container. The crystallized ginger can be kept indefinitely and used for baking, dipped in chocolate, or eaten as candy.