Friday, January 28, 2011

fresh candied ginger

So I broke down and bought a pound of ginger in Chinatown today...couldn't resist (what with the price, and the thought of yummy ginger flavored food in weeks to come).  Of course, after I got back, I soon realized just how much ginger this was.  Like, 2 very large chunks, and 2 smaller ones.

Solution - candied ginger.  Why not?  It's my favorite, it's expensive to buy (not to mention, difficult to find really good, strong candied ginger in the States), and school doesn't start until Tuesday.

I used the recipe from the Food Network, because all the other recipes seemed to think that the sugar couldn't recrystallize, and you would have to coat the ginger pieces with EXTRA sugar later on.

Here it is (with annotations from me, in red).

nonstick spray (although admittedly, I never actually used this).
1 pound fresh ginger root
5 cups water
approximately 1 pound granulated sugar


Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.  (I didn't have any of this, so I just used a clean plate and hoped that nothing would stick.  It didn't).

Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices. Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.  
(You need just need enough water to cover the ginger).

Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  (I also didn't have a I just poured out all the gingery cooking liquid into another dish, and saved all of it - you'll see why later).

Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar.  (surprise, surprise, no scale, so I just estimated.  Probably used less sugar that it called for, but no problem at all).

Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes. 

About that recrystallization time of 20 minutes...well, mine took more like an hour, but that could have been because my heat wasn't on very high.  Lesson: DON'T BE AFRAID OF SUPER-BUBBLY SUGAR WATER!  Mine came to a boil, then I turned down the heat, and tried to keep it down low enough so the whole thing wouldn't bubble like crazy.  After about 50 minutes I got impatient and turned the heat up - voila! The whole thing foamed up, the ginger/sugar thing became more like a giant foamy mass, and it was done!

Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces. (Once again, I just dumped the ginger pieces onto a plate, and made sure the pieces were spread out.  Since everything was all recrystallized, the pieces were dry and not so sticky.  Of course, if I hadn't waited for the sugar to recrystallize, then the parchment paper would have come in handy).

Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Save the sugar that drops beneath the cooling rack and use to top ginger snaps, sprinkled over ice cream or to sweeten coffee.

And here is my lovely ginger!  (I didn't make a full pound - more like half a pound, in case this was a total disaster).

Oh, and something the recipe didn't mention - there was a whole lot of sugar left over, not only large chunks stuck to the ginger, but large chunks stuck to the bottom and sides of my saucepan.

Yup, there it all is.

After scraping around and removing the loose sugar to save for later, I dumped that cooked ginger water into my saucepan.  And added the same amount of plain water as I had that ginger liquid, to dilute (that stuff is strong!).  I soaked the solution (if it's too hard to unstick, gentle heating should do the trick), and the result?  Something resembling non-fizzy ginger beer!  Actually, I bet if I diluted with club soda instead of water, that would work.

Anyway, this is supposed to take an hour, but since this was my first time, and I made ginger drink at the end, it probably took twice as long.

Still, completely worth it.  I will definitely do this again!

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