Crystallized ginger is somewhat of a magical candy from nature usually made from just ginger, sugar and a little heat to bring the two together. It seems there are almost as many crystallized ginger recipes as there are ginger pieces. After doing extensive testing I learned that the key to successful crystallized ginger boils down to three main things:
You must have at least a 50% mix of sugar to water mixture ratio in order for the
ginger to crystallize properly. I opted for a ratio of 1:3 ratio of sugar to water because I felt this promotes maximum crystallization with just the right amount of sweetness. The sugar content allows the ginger to crystallize and also acts as a preservative. The crystallization also lends a tender, soft and slightly chewy mouthfeel that is especially important.
The ginger should have sufficient time in the hot sugar mixture so it can soften and the sugar syrup can infuse it.
I’m not one to dredge crystallized ginger in granulated sugar. In my opinion, properly made crystallized ginger has enough naturally crystallized sugars throughout its interior to need additional sugar added to the exterior. In order to promote this sugar crystallization the ginger must be exposed to heat so the excess water evaporates.
The more you look into this mystical candy the more you’ll discover it’s devoted cult following. I find its zesty punch to be plenty intense but I wanted to give the option to upgrade it so it has even more flavor dimension so I included the optional addition of spices like allspice, nutmeg or cardamom.
Often I find ginger to be a little intense for my long term liking. To reduce the intensity of the ginger I by took a note from the method of crystallizing orange peels; I boiled the ginger in water and drained it a total of three times before proceeding with simmering in sugar. If you like your ginger intense, feel free to skip this step.
1 ¾ lbs fresh ginger root
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ teaspoons allspice, nutmeg or cardamom (optional)
Peel the ginger and cut it into ¼ to ½ inch cubes.
Rinse the ginger and place it in a medium saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water until the ginger is covered and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Repeat this step twice more. This will make your ginger a little less intense. If you prefer your ginger extra insense feel free to skip this step.
Place the ginger back into the saucepan and stir in the sugar, water and spice if using. Bring the mixture to a simmer (about 200F) for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the ginger to sit in the hot sugar mixture overnight or about 8 hours so the sugar syrup permiates the mixture.
Preheat your oven to 200F (93C). Place a colander over a bowl and strain the ginger into it. Reserve the ginger syrup for things like pancakes, muffins, cocktails, drizzling over ice cream or swirling into oatmeal. Place the ginger on two cookie sheets place them in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the ginger and allow it to dry for at least an additional 2 hours. The sugar will crystallize throughout the ginger during the next day or so. Store the ginger in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to six months. Makes about 10 ounces Crystallized Ginger.
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