When I was little, I discovered crystallized ginger in the spice rack. Crunchy, spicy, hot, and sweet, crystallized ginger became my favorite candy. My mother didn’t seem to mind; I’m not sure she’d ever found a better use for it.
Traveling to Alaska, a few years ago, with my husband, son, and daughter, I indulged in ginger candy from Asia. It’s supposed to help alleviate nausea on the whale-watching cruise, but that’s not a given; it only served to turn my daughter off all things ginger for the next two years.
It may not alleviate nausea, but it’s tasty in with a little vodka and ginger beer.
A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of nostalgia, I bought a little box of crystallized ginger from the grocery store. Mmmm. It’s a bit pricey, for such a small quantity, but worth it!
Next time, I thought, I’ll try making it myself. If I’d known, then, how easy it would be – and how much tastier it would be, how much more of a spicy bite it would have – I’d have made it from scratch the first time. I followed this simple recipe for candied ginger from Alton Brown.
Peel and chop about a pound of ginger. Simmer in 5 cups of water, until the ginger is softened – about 30 minutes. Drain, but reserve the liquid. Put the ginger back into the pot and stir in an equal amount of sugar, by weight. Add 1/4 cup of the ginger water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens and the sugar starts to recrystallize.
This is what it should look like:
Toss it out onto a cooling rack (have parchment or foil underneath to catch all that lovely, gingered sugar). Let it cool, then seal it up in an airtight container. The recipe says it will keep for about two weeks.
It goes extraordinarily well with dark chocolate and a classic book.
I’m thinking of adding a little saffron or hot pepper, next time. Have you ever made crystallized ginger? Would you, now that you know how easy it is?