honey-candied ginger

February 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I love ginger. I adore candied ginger, and tend to mince it up and pop it into just about anything remotely sweet that’s about to be baked or canned. While I’m lucky enough to have a semi-local source for inexpensive candied ginger, I have fond memories of attempting to make my own some years back, and it seemed like a good idea to try again. Differently.

Upon acquiring some 2 pounds of fresh ginger from the store, I started researching recipes. What I found was a fascinating mix of methods, ranging from “stick sliced ginger in sugar water and boil the tar out of it for 20 minutes and call it done” to things that I’m fairly sure would take 2-3 days of boiling, draining, steeping, adding sugars and flavourants, and generally allowing the concept of candied ginger to take over the kitchen indefinitely.

I like the stuff, but not quite _that_ much – besides, I remember the recipe I used last time wasn’t nearly that complex, though it did have that tough little clause about cooking until all or nearly all the syrup absorbed, which tends to lead to headaches while trying to avoid scorching the stuff when you desperately need to pee/keep the cat from breaking something/insert minor emergency here.

Fortunately for me, a friend from college shared her method, which fell nicely in between the two extremes, and allowed for enjoying the syrup leftover afterwards.

I like tweaking recipes. One of my favourite ginger sodas has a honey base. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Honey-candied Ginger

~2 lbs fresh ginger, peeled and sliced to between 1/4 – 1/3 inch (me, I just slice away.  the boyfriend has a sense of precision that I apparently lack. you can tell who sliced what a good portion of the time, but hey, it all tastes good.)

salt (yes, really)

3 cups sugar, plus a bit for dusting

2 cups honey

water, lots of

First, clear off your afternoon, and possibly your evening. This isn’t a quick process, even leaving out the pause I had to take partway through. Then peel and slice the ginger, put into a non-reactive pan, and cover with water with just a dash of salt in it. Bring it to a boil, and keep at a simmer or slow boil for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Put the ginger back into water with another dash of salt, and do it again. And again. (yes, that’s three times, 30 minutes each. No, I wasn’t precise about that, either.) Be impressed by how absolutely nasty the water looks by the end of each boil.

Now mix 6 cups of water, the sugar, and the honey into the pan, and bring to a boil to get everything dissolved. Add the ginger, and allow to simmer for a very long time, probably at least 2-3 hours, depending on how thick you sliced, how well you control your simmer, and your personal preferences and whims. You’re looking for the ginger to go translucent, but there’s also flavour and texture components to this, so play with it to suit yourself. I simmered uncovered for nearly 2 hours, then shut it off and lidded it while I went out to run errands for a couple of hours. When I got back, I brought it back up to a simmer, lidded, for another hour or more, then took off the lid for another 20-30 minutes of cooking, decided it looked about right, turned off the heat. The lid on/lid off was purely arbitrary, and had to do with my not wanting to have to tweak amounts if too much water evaporated, but I don’t think it would have been a problem anyway.

Depending on your heat tolerance, wait a few minutes or don’t, and carefully fish the ginger out of the syrup (not with your fingers!), spreading it on racks to dry – I used my dehydrator trays, which I am learning to quietly worship for making this sort of thing much easier. Remind me to tell y’all about the candied citrus peel debacle sometime. Allow to dry, assisted or otherwise, until just slightly sticky to the touch (I overshot a tad, but it’s all good, right?), then toss the pieces in some additional sugar, spread back out on trays or waxed paper or cookie sheets or wherever, and allow to dry for a while longer, then store in a jar or other air-tight container.

Backing up, there should be a lovely amber-coloured syrup in that pan once you’ve fished out that ginger. Don’t even think about throwing it away. Jar it and put it in the fridge, or seal it and pop it on the shelf.  (It’s sugar water. unless you have a history of honey going bad on you, don’t worry too much about shelf life on this stuff. Besides, it won’t be around long, right?) A few spoonfuls of this syrup, some soda water, and a touch of lemon juice for acidity, and you’ve got a really good ginger ale. I’m told that the syrup is great for other things in the plain sugar version, and further experimentation will commence shortly with the honey-syrup. Or it will if I can handle not just having it all to drink.

Output:

1 1/2 quart jars loosely packed with candied ginger – I’d love to give a weight, but a good kitchen scale is still on my “want” list.

nearly 1 quart of a fairly loose syrup – I could have reduced this down, but for soda purposes, it’s pretty close to ideal as it is

Initial impression:

The candied ginger is a little ‘crispier’ than the store-bought sugar version I’m used to. I’m unsure how much of that is age, how much the process, and how much the use of honey. Time will answer the first question, hopefully. My boyfriend thinks there’s more ‘bite’ in the flavour, but I’m not sure whether I agree. I think that may be the case on the larger pieces, though, simply due to size and cooking time. It’s quite yummy, very gingery, and a simply gorgeous colour. The first trial on the soda was a definite win as well, even still warm and without straining out ginger remnants.

Pictures are in the works, promise! I begged for photos to happen of the ginger after I set it out to dry, because it was just too pretty to be neglected, and I will get them up here soon.

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